‘The kids are calling me a hero’: Randolph County teachers praised for actions after wanted man tries to get into school

RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. -- Fast acting teachers at a Randolph County school are being credited for keeping students safe when a man on the run tried to get inside Southmont Elementary School.

A deputy with the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office was chasing the driver of a stolen truck Wednesday morning. Sheriff Greg Seabolt said the deputy slowed down near the school, but the suspect kept going fast, lost control and crashed through a fence on the property.

Chrystal Haigler, a fifth-grade teacher at the school, heard the crash.

“We were in the middle of class and we heard a noise,” Haigler said.

She quickly called for a lockdown after realizing what happened was more than just an accident.

“When he started to move away from his vehicle that’s when I knew something wasn't right,” Haigler said.

On the other side of the school, Kasey Shelton’s third-grade students were walking out of her class to go to lunch.

“The little boy that was in the back of my line told me ‘Miss Shelton, I hear a noise.’”

Someone was trying to get inside.

“I immediately knew that I had to do something very quick,” Shelton said. “I think my initial response was, 'Run.'”

Her students got to safety and the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office arrested Larry Hoover.

On Thursday, FOX8 learned he has a criminal history dating back more than 20 years. He has been charged previously with breaking into places and stealing things.

“The kids are calling me a hero,” Shelton said. “I do not feel that way at all.”

Both teachers are now being praised.

Principal Ann Carol Grant says her entire staff acted appropriately.

“Yesterday the best of Randolph County came to life in this building,” Grant said.

Lockdown drills are held at least three times a year. The practice paid off not only for the teachers, but also for students.

“There was not ever a moment that I felt, ‘Oh gosh, I don't know what to do,’” Shelton said.

“As soon as I said something to [the students] they knew where to go, they knew what to do and there was no questions,” Haigler said. “It was a bad situation, but it turned out to be a positive in the fact that we knew what to do. It kind of let us know that if something was to happen, a different situation, we know what to do.”

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