FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — A shooting on the campus of Forsyth Technical Community College sent the school into lockdown and drew in police and deputies from across the county.
Shannon Howard James Pitts, an 18-year-old student of Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy student, suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to the hand and was taken to a hospital, Winston-Salem Police Captain and District 3 Commander Shelley Lovejoy said in a news conference on Thursday afternoon.
The gunshot wound was reportedly self-inflicted. Lovejoy said investigators are still trying to find out if the shooting was intentional or accidental.
Investigators say Pitts had a gun on campus and has been charged the two counts of possession of a weapon on educational property and one count of carrying concealed gun.
Pitts was treated and released from the hospital and received a $25,000 secure bond for the above listed offenses, according to a Winston-Salem Police Department news release.
Lovejoy said that this was not an “active shooter situation” and there is not an “active threat to the community.” There are no suspects at-large, and no arrests have been made.
“We’re still trying to determine exactly how we came to be at Forsyth Tech and what generated this particular situation,” Lovejoy said.
Officials say that the first call came in around 10:10 a.m. Thursday in reference to a person being shot on campus.
During a news conference Thursday evening, Forsyth County Tech Police Chief Carolyn McMackin said officers were told about a gunshot being heard near the second-floor restroom of the Strickland Center, which is on Silas Creek Parkway in Winston-Salem.
Pitts was found near the restroom with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound.
A TechAlert was sent to Forsyth Tech students Thursday morning asking students to shelter in place due to shots fired at the Strickland Center. The Early and Middle College at Forsyth Tech, which is part of Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, also sheltered in place.
A second alert warned that there were two “armed and dangerous” suspects at large, wearing gray and black hoodies. Students were told not to engage.
Just before noon, Winston-Salem Police tweeted confirmation that there is no active shooter on the Forsyth Tech campus but there is still an active investigation.
Forsyth Tech put out the following TechAlert just after 1 p.m. “While the investigation is ongoing, law enforcement is releasing students, faculty, staff and visitors from Forsyth Tech’s main campus. In order to ensure an orderly evacuation, WSPD, Forsyth Tech Campus Police and the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office are working jointly to release one building at a time. Buses are returning to high schools and are departing campus now. Early and Middle college students can be picked up as usual outside of Ardmore.”
Inside the lockdown
During the lockdown, Patricia Bandy, who has a child attending Forsyth Tech, said she was in constant contact with her daughter.
“She first texted me just telling me that she loves me and telling me that there was an active shooter and telling me that she was hiding, and then she’s continuously texting me telling me that she’s still alive,” Bandy said. “Her friends have been texting me to tell me which building she’s in and to tell me that it doesn’t appear that the shooter is near the building. When you’re a parent, being on the same campus is too close. It’s too close to my kid.”
Forsyth Tech student Mindy Peneku was in class in Bob Greene Hall, the building next to Strickland, when the TechAlert went out. Peneku spoke with FOX8 at 11:18 a.m. and said the class was taking shelter under desks.
“Somebody’s trying to come in,” Peneku said during the call. “Somebody’s trying to come in. Oh my god. What are they doing? They’re barricading the doors right now.”
Students visiting campus
The superintendent of Stokes County Schools confirmed that there were Stokes County students on campus at the time.
While I do not have all of the details, I can confirm there were Stokes County Schools students on Forsyth Tech’s campus at the time of the shooting. All Students have been accounted for and are safe.
Stokes County district administration and school staff are on site and have confirmed sixteen students from West Stokes, 14 students from South Stokes, and one student from North Stokes were on campus and are being held there by law enforcement. The main bus from North Stokes had not arrived yet and that bus was re-routed back to North Stokes.
As soon as our students are released, they will come directly back to their school campuses.
This is still an ongoing investigation, and more information will be made available in the coming hours. Again, there were students from Stokes County Schools on a field trip to Forsyth Tech during the shooting; however, all students and staff who were on these field trips have been accounted for and are safe.
We do not anticipate there is a threat to any of our schools in Stokes County at this time; however, we have been in contact with our local law enforcement and will be providing extra security to our school’s this afternoon.Dr. Rice, Superintendent of Stokes County Schools
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools students are also accounted for, according to a representative.
Students who were attending events at Forsyth Tech are with their school representatives. All WS/FCS students are accounted for. We have no reports of injury at this time but will keep you updated with more information. Parents, please do not report to Forsyth Tech as the campus is on lockdown and following the shelter in place protocol. Our students will be brought back to their home schools as soon as possible.
Mayor Allen Joines said in a phone interview with FOX8, “We know that there’s the possibility for something like this happening everyday, and so our thoughts go out to the students and faculty and administration there at Forsyth Tech, knowing it’s a very stressful situation. I want to thank our law enforcement, our sheriff and our police department, for their quick and I think very effective response. It’s a very difficult time across the country as we see these things happen and particularly comes right into your own backyard so to speak.”
Gubernatorial candidate Josh Stein tweeted “Everyone in Winston-Salem please be safe.”
Lawmakers during an active session commented on the lockdown. Rep. Amber Baker says that her mother lives just a half mile from the lockdown and is meant to be under lockdown, but suffers from dementia and doesn’t understand what’s happening.
Rep. Donny Lambeth’s daughter is a guidance counselor at Parkland High School, writing to FOX8 that she “had taken students from her school for a campus visit today when the word spread at FT she and her students were taken into the woods for their safety to get them away from campus so she and the students were not sure what was going on. But she texted me to alert me and her sisters. One of her sisters who works at home turned on the TV and started texting us about what was going on. So Karrie, my daughter, kept us up to date via text. She is safe, as are the students. Thank God prayers were answered.”
Congresswoman Kathy Manning (NC-06) released the following statement on Thursday afternoon:
“Following reports of a shooting on Forsyth Tech’s campus, law enforcement and school leaders acted quickly to secure the campus. I commend their heroic efforts and thank them for protecting the students, faculty, and staff,” said Congresswoman Manning. “I have spent a great deal of time visiting and working with the Forsyth Tech community and I share their relief that this incident has been resolved with no fatalities. This shooting comes just a few days after a shooter at a Nashville school killed three students and three adults and just one day after North Carolina Republicans passed a law abolishing the state background check system. We must take steps now to reduce gun violence so that our students, teachers, and communities don’t have to live in fear. I am prepared to continue working with my colleagues in Congress to pass legislation that will reduce this scourge of violence.”–Congresswoman Kathy Manning