No weapons found in woods near Hillside High School during search day after deadly shooting

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Thursday, February 9, 2023
Search finds no weapons in woods near Hillside High School
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Durham students returned to class Thursday a day after one of their classmates was shot and killed not far off campus.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The person who shot two Durham high school students Wednesday remains on the run Thursday.

Hillside High School in Durham brought extra security to campus Thursday, in response to the shooting that killed one 17-year-old student and injured a 15-year-old student off campus during school hours.

On Thursday afternoon, Hillside was again placed in "secure status" as law officers continued to investigate nearby. The secure status was lifted without incident around 2 p.m., a Durham Public Schools spokesperson said.

Durham students returned to class Thursday a day after one of their classmates was shot and killed not far off campus.

The Durham County Sheriff's Office said that it received a tip earlier in the day regarding the possibility of weapons being stored in a wooded area near Hillside. Deputies conducted a search and did not find any weapons.

The area has been cleared.

"We encourage students and staff to continue to say something when they see or hear something so that we can investigate," the sheriff's office said in a release.

Sheriff Clarence Birkhead said it may be time to ramp up conversations about technology that could be used to keep students safe.

"I think everything is on the table. Certainly, we have to have conversations with our students, first and foremost, but I think we need to have conversations with our parents," Birkhead said. "I think we cannot discount any relevant piece of technology. Again, I'm not trying to throw money at this issue, but I think we have to evaluate where we are. And then we have to evaluate the technology that's available. Certainly metal detectors is one piece of technology that I think we should consider."

The mood on campus Thursday was described by students as somber. Parents were also disturbed knowing one of their own lost their child.

"Just losing anyone, definitely that saddens our heart. Like I said before my heart goes out to the family. I did not know them personally, but we're definitely praying for that family because someone did lose their child," parent Lasandra Mcduffie said.

Durham Mayor Elaina O'Neal was also dealing with a heavy heart during Thursday's city council meeting.

"Let us get a better world. Picture in our mind a better world for our students here in Durham, particularly Hillside High at this moment and how we can actually realize that," she said to the council.

Councilman Leonardo Williams added it's been an emotional couple of days in Durham.

"I would like to reaffirm my commitment and others to supporting the effort of saving lives as much as possible," Williams said.

The shootings happened shortly after 1 p.m. on Wednesday on Riddle Road near Fayetteville Street and American Tobacco Trail.

Both of the people shot were students at Hillside High School. It's unclear why they were off campus, but the school's handbook states that select 11th- and 12th-grade students can receive off-campus lunch passes.

This violence comes as the school prepares to perform a special play focusing on gun violence.

A play previously met with great reviews is making its way back to Hillside High School. It's called State of Urgency.

Curtains are set to rise on the play, State of Urgency, next Friday. The timing of the shooting and the play was not lost on recently retired Hillside drama teacher Wendell Tabb.

"The timing of this hit us really hard, which means that the message of the play is so important that we got to get people out. We've got to get these young people out to see the play, we've got to make sure that the social workers, mental health professionals, law enforcement, be able to have conversation with these young people. It is so needed," he said.

Durham Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Pascal Mubenga released the following statement on Thursday:

"I am heartsick about the loss of one of our students. His family and loved ones are in our thoughts and prayers-but we need more than thoughts and prayers. Our students are clamoring for an end to gun violence and our community must come together to deliver it."

Hillside High School principal Dr. William Logan was expected to speak Thursday about how the school is coping, but the school district canceled the interview because the school was placed on "secured status" due to a police investigation in the area.

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