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Man Accused of Entering School, Hitting Students With Belt

Johnston County sheriff's deputies arrested a man Tuesday morning after he allegedly assaulted two students at a local high school.

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BENSON, N.C. — Johnston County sheriff's deputies arrested a man they describe as "mentally challenged" Tuesday morning after he allegedly assaulted two students at a local high school.

But it was still unclear Tuesday afternoon why Billy Ray Anderson, 38, allegedly walked into the chorus room at South Johnston High School, took off his belt and hit the female students on the legs.

Tammy Amaon, a spokeswoman with the Johnston County Sheriff's Office, said Anderson did not have any children at the school, and investigators did not yet know why he went to the chorus room.

The incident happened at about 9 a.m., Johnston County Schools spokeswoman Crystal Roberts. A teacher spotted a man enter through the front doors and called authorities.

A school resource officer, who is normally assigned to the school, was in mandatory training, Amaon said, and a sheriff's deputy in the area responded to the call in four minutes.

Anderson is charged with second-degree trespassing, two counts of assault, communicating threats and assault on a school official for allegedly slapping the school's principal.

He was placed in jail under a $10,000 secured bond and was transferred to Central Prison in Raleigh because jail officials thought he needed extra observation, Amaon said.

Officials initially said the school was briefly on lockdown, but Roberts said Tuesday afternoon the incident happened so fast there was no time to implement the procedure.

Many students were unaware of the incident, she said, but some were concerned that Anderson was able to pass by the administration's office before anyone realized he was there.

"At first, I was like, 'Can someone just walk in here?'" student Jessica Dean said. "What if he had a gun, like he could have got anybody."

Roberts said administrators will review what happened and look at what improvements could be made.

"A lot of people were really freaked out," Dean said. "Some even left, because they felt really unsafe at our school for a little while."