Schools ramp up security

Orange High School recalls a tragedy last summer; in Holly Springs, a rifle is found on campus

Staff WritersApril 19, 2007 

In the wake of Monday's Virginia Tech massacre, Orange County High School is adding security in response to rumors of impending violence. Also, Holly Springs police arrested a student for having a weapon on campus.

Orange County schools sent parents an automated message Wednesday saying extra security will be provided today and Friday at the high school, even though school officials do not expect trouble. Students were reporting that they had seen threats of a school shooting on the social Web site MySpace.com.

"We have found no evidence of a credible threat but because of the current events, we [will have] extra security from the Sheriff's Office to come on campus," said Anne D'Annunzio, spokeswoman for Orange County Schools. "We don't think there's anything that's going to happen, but we don't want to take that chance."

Usually the system has one resource officer at each high school and middle school, D'Annunzio said. She did not know how many extra officers would be stationed at Orange High but said there will be an increased presence, especially at lunch.

Last summer, sheriff's investigators say, Alvaro Castillo, 19, drove a minivan stocked with pipe bombs, ammunition and other weapons to Orange High.

Armed with a shotgun and rifle, Castillo got out of the van and fired at least one of the guns several times before being subdued by a student resource officer and a driver education teacher who is also a reserve officer and retired state trooper.

Two students were injured, one from a bullet grazing her shoulder and one from broken glass resulting from a gunshot.

After his arrest, deputies found Castillo's father shot to death in the family's home.

Holly Springs arrest

Also Wednesday, police charged Holly Springs High School student Kentreal McDonald, 16, of 8925 Turner Drive in Apex, with possessing a weapon on campus.

According to police, an officer assigned to the school ran the license plate on a Mitsubishi Galant that did not have a parking pass. Authorities searched the car after seeing beer cans and other items in the car that are prohibited on campus. When the trunk was opened, authorities found a .22-caliber rifle.

Holly Springs town spokesman Mark Andrews said the car was found to be registered to Ibrahim Fernando Melendez of 501 E. Maple Ave. in Holly Springs.

McDonald told police he had borrowed the car from Melendez and had driven it to school.

"My understanding is that Kentreal McDonald is responsible for possessing a weapon on school grounds ... by driving the car onto campus," Andrews said. "Right now, no charges are anticipated [against Melendez]."

McDonald was being held Wednesday in the Wake County jail pending payment of $5,000 bail and release into parental custody.

Melendez is furious that his friend was arrested.

"I went to the school. I told them the rifle was mine," he said Wednesday afternoon outside McDonald's home. "We're just going to do what we have to do to get him out of [the jail]."

Wake County school officials said besides that incident, no other security issues have come up this week to put them on alert.

Johnston County schools spokeswoman Crystal Roberts said that after the Virginia Tech shootings, reminders went out to school principals about keeping their eyes open for anything unusual.

"There's been discussion and reminders to the administrators about the importance of security and the importance of notification and communication," she said.

Charlotte-area incident

Police in Huntersville, near Charlotte, said four schools were put on immediate lockdown Wednesday after a student pointed a handgun at two other students in a parking lot at North Mecklenburg High school.

The student shot himself in the head when police confronted him at a nearby gas station, Capt. Michael Kee of the Huntersville Police Department told The Associated Press.

The name of the student, who attended the high school, was not released.

"We put every school in the area on immediate lockdown in light of everything that's gone on in the world lately," Kee said, referring to the shootings at Virginia Tech. "We erred on the side of caution."

Staff writer Marlon A. Walker can be reached at 836-4906 or marlon.walker@newsobserver.com.

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