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Leaders resolve to keep students safe following Mount Tabor High School shooting

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A press conference with local and state leaders was held Thursday morning in Winston-Salem following the killing of a student in a shooting at Mount Tabor High School on Wednesday.

The press conference included remarks from Gov. Roy Cooper, Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough, Jr., Winston-Salem Police Chief Catrina Thompson, Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill, and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Tricia McManus.

Gov. Roy Cooper speaks at a press conference following a shooting at Mount Tabor High School. Mebane Rash/EducationNC

You can watch the full press conference here.

Excerpted remarks from Gov. Roy Cooper

Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough Jr., Gov. Roy Cooper, and Winston-Salem Police Chief Catrina Thompson at a press conference in Winston-Salem. Mebane Rash/EducationNC

“Our hearts go out to the parents and the family of this young man who was shot and killed yesterday at Mount Tabor High School.

“Our hearts go out to all of the students, staff, educators at Mount Tabor and other schools that were affected by this. People who had to endure the pain and the trauma and the fear that this kind of violent incident brings.

“Our hearts go out to parents who were waiting in a parking lot, hoping and praying, sweating, crying, hoping that their child would be reunified safely with the family.

“Our hearts go out to the brave law enforcement officers who made tough decisions, but also who bravely sought and apprehended a suspect with a gun whom they knew had killed somebody, and the steps that they took to protect all of the other students and staff.

“Our hearts go out to all parents, not only in this community, but across our state who have children in school who are experiencing the concern, the anger, the fear that this kind of incident brings.

“This is a pain and a fear that no child or parent should ever have to confront simply by having a child go to school. School is a place of learning and growth and we have to do everything we can to keep them free of threats and violence.

“It’s a time for us to collect our resolve and do everything we can to redouble our efforts to keep our schools safe – trainings of school resource officers, making sure that there are more mental health treatment and prevention for students, investing in educators, and keeping guns out of school.

“We have to guarantee that our schools are safe for our parents, for our educators, and for our children. We have spent a lot of time working on these school violence plans to make sure we are ready to react in a moment’s notice to keep students, educators safe, and to make sure that parents have a place for them to meet. But I think this goes well beyond that.

“We do need to make more investments in our children in early childhood education. We need to make sure that they have wrap-around mental health services. We’ve got to make sure that they are engaged in our communities, making sure that they have positive things to do. And we’ve got a lot of things that we haven’t done yet that we can do. And when you look at this budget negotiation that we have right now, full funding of a sound basic education for our children can help provide some of these services that I believe can help us not only reduce violence in our schools, but violence in our communities.

We need to make sure that we keep guns off of school grounds, and we need to take steps to make sure that that happens. You know that that is a pretty dramatic step to put metal detectors in schools. But I think you cannot take it off the table. There may be particular schools and particular instances where you may want to do that. So I think that you have to be ready to use any tool that you have to make sure that the schools are safe.”

Excerpted remarks from police Chief Catrina Thompson

Winston-Salem Police Chief Catrina Thompson. Mebane Rash/EducationNC

“I want to ask that you give me a moment to speak directly to our children, our students. What you experienced yesterday at Mount Tabor no one should ever experience at all, ever, in their lives. I can only imagine how traumatic that experience could have been, and I want you to know that it is okay not to be okay today. I want you to know that we will provide all the services that you need. We will have therapists available for you.

“We are here to help support you as you get through this. Some of the most memorable times in my life were spent in school. I cannot imagine having the experience of what many of you went through yesterday as a lasting memory of a lifetime. Parents, pay attention to your children. You know them better than anybody else. If they are struggling, help them. If you don’t know how to help them, call me.”

Excerpted remarks from Superintendent Tricia McManus

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Tricia McManus. Mebane Rash/EducationNC

“We will continue focusing on a lot of the prevention, a lot of the things we brought forward, in relation to even our ESSER dollars (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund), to have more mental health support in our schools, to have after school, more after school programs. We’re talking with so many partners right now about how to expand those, how to connect kids with resources that they need. I believe that if kids feel capable, connected, and cared for there’s a different outcome with how they then proceed when it comes to trauma and to how they react to situations.”

Mebane Rash

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC.