The mural was torn down by 16-year-old Mason Stewart.
This guy tore down the artwork of other students about police brutality today. Artwork that had been approved by the administration. This is the same guy who brought an All Lives Matter poster and “don’t tread on me” flag to our school walkout. Im just so done w ppl like this pic.twitter.com/1ElGj7szVw— Jenna🌈 (@JennaDavenpor15) May 8, 2018
He told ABC11 on Thursday that he found the mural to be offensive and inappropriate.
“I feel violated by it . . . It was offensive.” An Apex junior rips down a #BlackLivesMatter mural at his high school & is standing by the decision. The 16-year-old was suspended today & spoke with us as he was leaving. #ABC11 pic.twitter.com/2v1d7baAG7— Elaina Athans (@AthansABC11) May 10, 2018
"The mural on the wall was up there for about three or four weeks, 'cause they've been working on it occasionally because it's an art class, and right when I saw the gun go up, that's when I complained and it's still up here since Monday so I tore it down," he said.
Stewart is a junior at the high school.
He said, for weeks, he's complained to teachers and administrators that he didn't feel showing a gun on the mural was appropriate on school grounds.
"It was very offensive and it's pointing fingers to cops, and more likely white officers," he said. "And I have a lot of respect for officers because their job is not easy."
To his chagrin, the art installation was approved ahead of time by school staff.
A student who worked on the project took to social media after the mural was destroyed.
Welcome to Apex High School— Gracie (@gracie_e_s) May 8, 2018
Where your mural about Black Lives Matter will get torn down the day it is finished
(this was a month of work BTW) pic.twitter.com/Hsefclz7Ga
Her tweet has been shared thousands of times and liked by more than 25,000 people.
Other students who spoke to ABC11 on Thursday said they are outraged.
"I find it incredibly disrespectful to the lives that died because they're all innocent and he's trying to say it's freedom of speech, but you're tearing down someone else's freedom of speech basically," said Chavis Coachman.
The principal did post a message on Apex High School's website, saying that defacing school property for any reason is not tolerated.
Stewart was suspended for a post on Instagram about the incident that was deemed racially insensitive.