Handgun, fight result in 13 student arrests

Published 1:04 am Saturday, January 19, 2008

By Staff
Friday morning incidents reportedly unrelated
Senior Reporter
On the last day of the fall semester, a 9 mm handgun was confiscated from a student at S.W. Snowden Elementary School. In a separate incident, 12 students were arrested for involvement in a fight that broke out at Southside High School.
The incidents do not appear to be related, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office and Beaufort County Schools.
The handgun, loaded with 15, 9 mm cartridges, was found in the waistband of a 15-year-old eighth grader at Snowden Elementary School. The school’s resource officer, Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Walt Zerniak, knew to look for the weapon based on tip received Friday morning.
Snowden Principal Susan Leggs received information Thursday that a student might bring a gun to school the following day. She communicated that information to Zerniak.
Leggs and Zerniak, who is also a school resource officer at Southside High School, met the student before school Friday as the student came on campus. The firearm was taken and the student was arrested without incident.
A secure custody order was obtained and the student was taken to a juvenile holding facility in Pitt County.
There is no evidence that indicates the student intended to use the gun, according to the sheriff’s office. An investigation into the origin of he handgun is ongoing.
Beaufort County Sheriff Alan Jordan said the student was charged with possession of a firearm on school grounds, which is a felony. The student received an automatic 365-day suspension, according to Beaufort County Schools Superintendent Jeff Moss.
District Attorney Seth Edwards said the state will make the decision on how to proceed with the student.
Zerniak’s work was not done for the day.
At around noon Friday, two female Southside High School students started fighting in a common area on the school’s campus.
After the two students refused to stop the fight, Zerniak stunned both with a Taser. Several other fights then broke out, according to accounts from sheriff’s office deputies and the school system.
Approximately 400 students were in and around the common area when the incident occurred. The sheriff’s office dispatched several deputies to the scene.
Eight students from ages 16 to 18 were arrested by the sheriff’s office and charged with disorderly conduct for actions related to the fights. Four juvenile students under age 16 will be charged with disorderly conduct in juvenile court, according to the sheriff’s office.
Additional charges may be brought against the students.
Students arrested include Aaron Jamile Carter, Ta’keyna Maria Carter, Jessica Lynn Hardy, Jasmine Alexandria Jones, Vernon Da shawn Mason, Antwan Maurice McCuller, Elijah Zachariah Scott and Andre Terrell Willis.