Parents of Cumberland County school students received the type of phone call that nightmares are made of on Monday afternoon.
Two North Carolina schools were on lockdown Monday after a 15-year-old student was shot in the neck while eating lunch outside of Cape Fear High School in Fayetteville, N.C. Nearby Mac Williams Middle School was also locked down for several hours as authorities began a widespread manhunt, as well as an investigation into where the lone gunshot may have come from.
Caitlyn Abercrombie, a 15-year-old student, was eating lunch outside of the school when she was struck in the neck with a bullet from a small caliber firearm. A school liaison officer and an assistant principal were mere yards away from the victim when the shooting occurred, according to Cumberland County schools superintendant Frank Till. Witnesses claim that no one approached the girl at all, and have reported hearing a loud pop, followed by the victim falling to the ground. A “code red” was issued via the school intercom to let students and adults know that the incident was not a drill, and the school was put into lockdown.
The 15-year-old was taken to nearby Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, where she underwent surgery and is reportedly in stable condition, according to sheriff’s office spokesperson Debbie Tanna. Deputies also scoured the campus, buildings, and buses, and were aided by a helicopter in the search, Tanna said.
Investigators have been unable to identify the source of the gunshot, even admitting that it may have originated off of the campus altogether. Tanna has stated that police are considering the possibility of an accidental shooting, citing the high volume of hunting in the area, and the feasibility of a stray bullet reaching the campus, according to the Fayetteville Observer.
Students were eventually released by classroom to be searched and scanned with metal detectors, before boarding buses around 5 p.m. Parents also picked up students who were driven to school around the same time, and those who drive themselves were released shortly after. Classes will resume on Tuesday, and according to Tanna, both schools will have heightened security, as well as metal detectors in place to ensure student safety.