Local News

Gunshot on Chapel Hill school bus prompts security concerns

Posted April 15, 2010 11:22 a.m. EDT
Updated April 15, 2010 6:25 p.m. EDT

— Police from Chapel Hill and Carrboro detained a man near Chapel Hill High School Thursday morning after a shot was fired on a school bus.

An unknown number of students were on the bus at the time, but no injuries were reported.

The shooting occurred shortly before 10:45 a.m. Schools in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro district were operating on a delayed schedule used one Thursday each month to give teachers planning time.

Police said the gunman fired a shot into the floor of the bus and then fled onto Chapel Hill High property, prompting a lockdown at the school.

Smith Middle School, Seawell Elementary School and Morris Grove Elementary School were placed on "soft" lockdown while police searched for the gunman, school district spokeswoman Stephanie Knott said. Under that scenario, students were allowed to change classrooms, but no one was allowed into or out of the building.

Aaron Mario Small, 18, of 215 Homestead Road in Chapel Hill, was found inside a home on Jubilee Drive about a half-hour after the incident, police said. Officers also recovered a .22-caliber revolver that they believe was used.

Small was charged with possession of a weapon on school property, discharging a weapon on school property, resisting a public officer and injury to real property. He was being held Thursday in the Orange County jail under a $15,100 bond.

The three "soft" lockdowns were lifted by 11:30 a.m., and the lockdown at Chapel Hill High ended shortly after noon.

Chapel Hill High students said they weren't immediately told the reason for the lockdown, and some said they thought the threat might be inside the building.

"There was a split second where I originally thought that my safety was in danger," senior Pasan Prera said. "It's out of the ordinary around here."

Others said they weren't surprised by the incident.

"I'm sure there are guns in the school every day," parent Jackie Swank said. "Our kids have to come to school. It's important to get their education, but when safety is an issue, you worry as a parent."

Chapel Hill High has metal detectors, but they aren't used every day as students enter school. Knott said district administrators would review the incident to determine whether any security policies or procedures need to be changed.

"You hear about this stuff on the news all the time, and you hear about it happening other places in the country, but you never think it's going to happen here– so close to you," senior Devon Rohe said.