The Wake County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an altercation that took place on the East Wake High School campus early Thursday afternoon.
Sheriff Donnie Harrison confirmed a fight took place about 1 p.m. in the school’s gym lobby area including one, maybe two people who were not supposed to be on the school campus. Tremaine Deshon Jones, 20, of 4031 Northstone Drive in Raleigh, has been charged with second degree trespassing, but Harrison said it wasn’t clear yet that Jones was involved in that fight. “He got that busted lip from somewhere,” Harrison said.
“We’re still trying to determine the number of people that were actually involved,” said Sebastian Shipp, principal of East Wake’s School of Engineering Systems. “We know that we had two individuals that were trespassing on campus. We’ve identified those persons and passed those names onto the Wake County Sheriff’s Office.”
The name of the second alleged trespasser has not yet been released.
Harrison said detectives have video footage of “a good crowd of people standing around” a fistfight and that the quality of the video is poor, making it difficult to pick out who all was involved.
The incident resulted in a wave of student withdrawals from class on Friday as the school community broadcasted its happening on social media.
The student parking lot was about half full shortly before noon Friday. The line in the main office to check out students wrapped around that office and out into the hallway. School officials said 545 students checked out early, although that number is likely higher because some students didn’t follow the proper early checkout process. The school’s enrollment is 1,453.
“We did have a high number of parents coming to the office to check out their students,” Shipp said. “At this point we can’t determine what the absence was like because we’re working through the situation.”
Some parents were grumbling, because they had not heard anything directly from the school. One man whose daughter goes to East Wake said his son in Greensboro called to find out what was happening and that was how he learned about it.
“We’ve heard rumors that something else was going to happen (Friday), but we take that as rumors,” Harrison said. “But we do take it seriously. Students in that school can be a big help to us. They were the ones who saw what happened.”
An electronic phone call to parents suggested a potential for more violence Friday. Shipp said the call was not placed Thursday because officials had not heard rumors for more activity at that time.
“When we got the rumors of another altercation, we went ahead and made the phone calls to our parents as far as what is going on today,” Shipp said Friday.
The school day went on without any related incidents. The school planned to send another call to parents to update the situation Friday afternoon.
East Wake operated under normal hours Friday, with extra law enforcement present and Russ Smith, Wake schools’ director of security, on the campus helping with the investigation.
Harrison said the additional police presence at the school on Friday was in response to a request from school officials.
“It’s a he-said, she-said kind of thing,” Harrison said of the incident. “We work with the school staff and security; if they feel like they need some of our cars and men, we will certainly provide that.”
Shipp said East Wake has a safety plan in place and implemented it as a result of the fight. The plan mostly calls for faculty to up their vigilance.
“As educators, that’s really our very first charge,” Shipp said. “We communicate (the plan) not only to administration but to our (teachers) as well. We review that plan to be sure everyone knows their responsibility in terms of safety measures.”
Detectives continued to collect video footage of the incident Friday afternoon.
“The more we get, the more we can pick them apart and identify the people that were involved,” Harrison said.