Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office works to keep guns out of schools

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Three guns have been found in the past three weeks on Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools campuses.

“We’re taking very strict measures,” Forsyth County Sheriff's Office Major of Enforcement Mark Elliott said.

That’s already halfway to the six guns recovered in all of the last school year. Students bring guns for different reasons.

“A lot of times it’s just to show intimidation or to brag and try to show what I have access to, but there is an occasion when students do bring guns to school to do harm. But we have to treat every measure as serious and the intent is to do harm until proven otherwise,” Elliot said.

On, Sept. 4 at Mount Tabor, investigators say a 15-year-old brought a gun to school in a backpack. No one was threatened, but police are still concerned.

“There is a fear there’s gun violence nationwide. Just the sheer presence of someone presenting a gun or showing a gun in school is going to strike fear in others, especially those who may have been traumatized from what they’ve seen on TV,” Elliott said.

Two guns were found last Friday.

Winston-Salem officers say Anthony Toribio, 18, brought a stolen gun to Carver High School in his front pocket before he resisted arrest.

Over at North Forsyth High School, Police say a 17-year-old brought his fathers gun to school. Both he and his father are facing charges.

Police say students have to first get a gun to bring it on campus, and many times they get the guns from home.

“That’s why we want to impress on the parents that with guns and gun ownership we need it to be responsible and we need these guns secured at the homes so these kids don’t have access to them,” Elliott said.

None of the guns found this year happened at schools with school resource officers from the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, but two years from now, the sheriff’s office will absorb all of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school district.

In February, they started a policy of two SROs at every high school and will continue that.

“That gives us more of an opportunity to have more building relationships and provide more security,” Elliott said.

Deputies feel relationships SROs build help the "see something say something" effort.

It also gives students someone to go to if there are conflicts.

“We can sit down with the person that may be possibly bullying another student or the student, in general, to find out why they feel unsafe and that’s again another relationship key the sheriff's office is trying to do to be both just a security presence on campus but to be a big brother or big sister to our children,” Elliott said.

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