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Student accused of bringing gun, ammo to Johnston high school day before graduation

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A school lockdown is a precautionary measure issued in response to a direct or nearby threat. It requires staff and students to respond quickly and comply with rules. Here’s how it often works.

A Cleveland High School senior was arrested Thursday, the day before graduation, after officials say he brought a loaded 9 mm handgun to the school.

Donovon Maurice Covington, 18, also had two loaded magazines of ammunition, shotgun shells, a folding knife and brass knuckles, according to ABC11, the News & Observer’s media partner. He was arrested around 11 a.m., the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office told ABC11.

In an automated telephone call Thursday afternoon, principal Jenna Sauls-Hairr told families that the school administration had received a tip that morning about about a gun on campus. She said law enforcement was immediately called to handle the matter.

“All students and staff are safe and the incident has been resolved on campus,” Sauls-Hairr said. “We are appreciative of our partnership with law enforcement which took quick action, and of the tipster whose information helped to ensure our safety.”

The arrest came the same day that State Superintendent Mark Johnson announced that a contract has been signed with Sandy Hook Promise to use the “Say Something Anonymous Reporting System.” The mobile app will allow North Carolina students, parents and educators to anonymously report school safety concerns.

Covington was charged with felony and misdemeanor possession charges for the gun and the knife, respectively and was placed in the Johnston County jail on $10,000 bail.

The school’s graduation ceremony takes place at 10 a.m. Friday, according to the school’s website.

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T. Keung Hui has covered K-12 education for the News & Observer since 1999, helping parents, students, school employees and the community understand the vital role education plays in North Carolina. His primary focus is Wake County, but he also covers statewide education issues.

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