Cumberland School Reassures Parents That Students Are Safe
Posted August 16, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT
SPRING LAKE — Parents are relieved that no one was hurt when aman walked into a Cumberland County school with a gun Monday, but they are also asking how it could happen.
Investigators say 38-year-old Bobby Lee Bellamy was able to gain access toSpring Lake Middle Schoolthrough an unlocked side door.
Normally, that door is locked, and parents can be sure that starting at 8:30 a.m. every day, it will be locked from here on out.
When parents brought their children to Spring Lake Middle School Tuesday morning, many of them did not know what happened on the first day of school.
As parents and students learned of the incident, there were concerns.
"I just didn't want it to happen again, because I've seen all that stuff that happened at Columbine, and a lot of my friends go here. I didn't want them to get hurt or anything," said student Monica Ullom.
Investigators say Bellamy walked through a side door with a loaded gun, went inside a classroom and sat at an empty desk.
The teacher removed Bellamy from the classroom, and his weapon was taken away without a struggle.
Normally, the side doors are locked. That change was implemented after theshootings at Columbinelast spring.
Because of all the new students, Principal Robert Lucas says he chose to keep the side doors open just for the first day of school.
"I did not want any parents, especially sixth-grade parents, who are coming to Spring Lake Middle School for the first time to all of a sudden feel like they are locked out," said Lucas.
Bellamy is now locked up on two federal charges. He made his first court appearance Tuesday morning and is now waiting for a bond hearing in federal court which is scheduled for Thursday.
He has an extensive criminal record ranging from weapons offenses to forgery.
Investigators say they found more than $600 in his possession as well as drug paraphernalia as he was taken into custody Monday morning at the school.
A letter went home with all Spring Lake Middle School students Tuesday. It assures parents that their children are safe.
It also talks about some safety changes that are being considered at the school.
School officials are thinking about installing a fence that will restrict entry onto campus.
A Cumberland County School Crimes Task Force member thinks keeping only the main door unlocked is another idea.