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School Officials Mystified by Attempted Knifing Over Grades

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FAYETTEVILLE — A Fayetteville student appeared in court Thursday morning to face charges he held a secretary at knife-point until she changed the grades on his report card.

The student, 17-year-old Robert Coleman, is being held under $50,000 bond for second-degree kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, and having a weapon on school property.

Coleman could also be expelled from school.

Westover school administrators say Coleman had never been in any serious trouble before late Wednesday afternoon, when police say Coleman held an eight inch knife to the neck of school secretary Monica Pone.

Within minutes, Assistant Principal Nick Angelone got involved.

"Mr Angelone upon hearing the screams of the secretary came out and calmed the situation very quickly," Westover Principal Bill Shipp said. "The young man allowed her to turn and make the changes in his grades and then through Mr. Angelone's calmness and firmness, he allowed the secretary to leave."

The high school junior then allegedly held the assistant principal at knife-point until the principal arrived.

"I opened the door and asked him, 'Mr. Angelone I need to talk to you' and so the young man let him come out, and about that time - within thirty seconds - the police arrived," Shipp said.

"When the officers approached, he was still sitting in the room," Fayetteville Police Sgt. Roberto Rivera said. "He had his hands in his pocket and they ordered him to expose his hands, which he still had the knife in his possession. They ordered him to drop the knife which he did. He co-operated."

School administrators sent a note home with students Thursday explaining the situation to parents, and to inform them that security measures are in place.

Shipp said Angelone's experience as an administrator paid off. School administrators say if not for Angelone's cool and calm demeanor, the situation could have been a much greater tragedy.

Students who were still in the school at the time were evacuated.

"We saw a lot of cop cars coming, and then they were running around and they just told us to leave the building," student Meagan Robinson said.

"It was very scary not knowing what was going on in your school and nobody would tell you anything so we had to find out from another student who saw it," student Terri Hughes said.

Coleman's guardians, his aunt and uncle, were in the dark as well.

At Coleman's court appearance Thursday, they said they learned of the entire incident through friends and the media.

"We were very upset about it because we should have been notified immediately when he was arrested. We had to know by friends, phone calls, media, and that was unnecessary," Coleman's Aunt said.

School system administrators say their first priority was to deal with the situation at hand. They say as soon as they answered questions from members of the media who were at the school, they immediately called the suspect's guardians. andJulie Moos