Local News

Two in custody after girl shot in neck at Cumberland high school

Posted October 24, 2011 2:07 p.m. EDT
Updated October 25, 2011 5:50 a.m. EDT

— Two teens were taken into custody Monday after a 15-year-old girl was seriously wounded in a shooting at Cape Fear High School near Fayetteville, according to the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office.

Cape Fear students Ta'Von McLaurin,18, and a 15-year-old suspect whose name was not released were being interviewed by investigators Monday night, but had not been formally charged.

Cumberland County Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler said Monday night he was confident that both students were involved and that they would definitely be charged once investigators finished interviewing them.

Catilyn Abercrombie was in stable condition following surgery at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center after being struck in the neck by a bullet while standing in the breezeway outside the school's cafeteria. Earlier in the afternoon, she was listed in serious condition, but was able to nod and shake her head in response to questions from investigators and her family.

A .22-caliber rifle was found inside the school building and a shell casing was found outside the breezeway doors, Butler said. Only one shot was fired.

Investigators do not believe that Abercrombie was targeted, but Butler said they did not know why the shooting happened.

"The best we can ascertain, she was just a random victim," he said. "Whether it was intended for her or for someone else, we don't know exactly. But they did have a gun on campus, and that is something very frightening to us."

Witnesses told investigators they heard a "pop" and then saw Abercrombie collapse. No one saw the shooting, Butler said, but investigators believe the shot was fired from several yards away.

"It sounded like a loud pop," said Cape Fear senior Ryan Sullivan who was nearby when the teen was shot. "She was bleeding from her neck."

Sullivan said he had a computer class with Abercrombie and that she was a quiet girl and diligent student.

After students left the building Monday afternoon, investigators reviewed surveillance tapes from inside the school and identified the suspects.

Parents told WRAL News that they have had concerns about security at the school.

Genesis Sutton said his daughter was next to Abercrombie when she was shot.

"She heard a firecracker pop, the girl got hit in the neck and fell," he said.

Sutton said his daughter had told him about gang fights on school grounds and that threats had been made about a school shooting. He picked his daughter up from school early Monday and said he would keep her home for the rest of the week out of concern for her safety.

Betty Jo Hammonds said her daughter tried to warn her about violence at the school.

"When she got ready to leave today, she said, 'Mom, I don't want to go to school today.' I asked her why? She said, 'Because something was going to happen at school today," Hammonds said.

School officials have not confirmed any reports of recent gang activity.

"All I can tell was the school was quiet today," said Superintendent Frank Till. "It was a normal day."

When WRAL News reporter Bryan Mims got to the school shortly after the shooting, he found a group of parents standing outside, desperate for information. Some mothers asked him, "Can you please tell me if my kids are all right?"

Cape Fear High was on code red lock down, meaning no one could enter or leave the school. Students were released shortly before 4 p.m.

Students at neighboring Mac Williams Middle School were also escorted off campus after temporarily being on lock down.

All after-school activities at both schools were canceled for Monday.

Butler said there would be at 10 extra deputies at the schools on Tuesday morning.