Cape Fear student shot in critical condition

15-year-old Catilyn Abercrombie (Facebook)
October 26, 2011 3:20:23 AM PDT
A Cape Fear High School student is in critical condition after being shot in the neck while at school Monday.

Cumberland County authorities have arrested two students in custody following the Monday afternoon incident.

Fifteen-year-old freshman Catilyn Abercrombie was shot in the neck with a .22 caliber rifle while eating lunch outside a building on Cape Fear High School's campus. She was on a ventilator Tuesday evening and will have to undergo a second surgery according to a sheriff's department spokesperson.

Eighteen-year-old Ta'Von McLaurin, and a 15-year-old, whose name is not being released because of his age, were taken into custody at their Cumberland County homes Monday night.

Cumberland County Superintendent Dr. Franklin Till said that both students were in the 9th grade.

Click here for Till's live interview Tuesday morning

McLaurin is charged with felony aiding and abetting. Bond was set at $250,000. The second teen will go to juvenile court. He has a hearing Thursday. He is charged with attempted first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.

Investigators say surveillance footage showed the two teens, who attended class Monday, carrying a rifle inside the school. A .22 caliber rifle was recovered inside the school and a shell casing was discovered in a breezeway.

Witnesses said they heard a popping noise and saw Abercrombie fall to the ground bleeding, but no one saw a gun.

The shooting happened just after 1 p.m. Cape Fear High and nearby Mac Williams Middle School, off Clinton Road, were put on "code-red" lockdown for over an hour until the campuses were secured.

Abercrombie's parents said she was able to nod her head Monday evening in response to questions from investigators.

Click here for the Prayers for Catilyn Abercrombie Facebook page

Six years ago at the age of 8, Abercrombie survived a wreck involving a drunk driver. She was in the car with a family friend, who was killed, when the car they were in was hit head-on. Her parents say Monday's shooting is the second traumatic incident their daughter has survived.

Cumberland County Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler said Monday there was no reason to believe Abercrombie was the intended target. He estimated the rifle was fired from about 50 to 100 feet outside the cafeteria's double doors.

Superintendent Till said it was a normal, quiet lunch period when the incident happened. He said there was no suspicious activity prior to the shooting.

Shortly after the shooting, dozens of parents began waiting outside Cape Fear High School after their children sent them text messages from their cell phones about the incident.

Some parents told ABC11 there was speculation the incident stemmed from alleged gang related activity and may have been connected to an incident last week.

However, Till and Sheriff Butler said they do not feel gang activity was related to the shooting.

Officials began releasing students at Mac Williams Middle School just before 3 p.m. Students at Cape Fear High School were released shortly after that.

Officials escorted students from the high school with their hands up as a precaution, and Cumberland County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Debbie Tanna said students were searched before getting onto school buses.

The school also notified parents through a recorded phone message about the incident.

Parents have said they are frustrated with the situation. They said their children told them about trouble brewing, and they want more security.

Till said there are metal detectors on campus, but they were not in use Monday.

He also said at this point he doesn't believe the shooting was gang related, but did admit that all schools have some type of gang presence on campus.

"Certainly there are a few kids on campus you can say have an affiliations with groups they shouldn't, but a high majority of the kids, high 90's, are not associated with any kind of gang," he said.

Cape Fear and Mac Williams were in regular session Tuesday, with counselors on hand and beefed up security.

Till said every student at the high school had to go through metal detectors before going to class.

"Relatively calm atmosphere, things are going well," he said. "Attendance is down by about a third at the high school and a little over 10 percent at the middle school. But that's actually probably better than I anticipated. I thought the attendance would be, particularly at the high school, much lower. But I'm pleased that people are coming back and seeing the schools are safe."

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