Northampton High evacuated

Published 12:50 pm Friday, September 26, 2014

CREEKSVILLE – A physical altercation between two Northampton High School students forced the evacuation of the entire student body and staff here Thursday.

Northampton Sheriff Jack Smith said the pepper spray used by Deputy Dwayne Carter in an attempt to break-up a fight in the cafeteria got into the facility’s ventilation system, traveling through the ductwork and affecting students/staff in other rooms of the main school building. There were reports by parents to the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald that their Northampton High students were complaining of watery eyes and a burning sensation in their noses and throats.

During Thursday’s lunch in the cafeteria, Smith said Carter, who serves as the School Resource Officer at NCHS, observed one student, 17-year-old Demonta Johnson of Jackson, on top of another student, a 14-year-old male, and was punching him repeatedly in the face. Johnson was arrested and charged with assault causing injury, and resisting arrest.

“The 14-year-old had suffered several blows to the face and was bleeding profusely,” Smith said. “At that point, Deputy Carter attempted to break-up the fight by physically removing the student (Johnson) off of the other student. When that didn’t work as planned, Deputy Carter ordered him (Johnson) to cease the physical assault. Not only did the student (Johnson) not heed the deputy’s words, he also pushed the deputy, at which time my deputy used two-to-three bursts of pepper spray to disengage the attacker.

“He (Carter) used the least amount of force to break-up the fight. Unfortunately, the pepper spray got into the ventilation system and affected other areas of the school building,” Smith added.

Students and staff were evacuated from their classrooms to the school’s football field. There, Smith said several other fights broke out between students. That led Smith to call for back-up from other Northampton deputies and officers from each of the county’s municipal police departments, as well as from the Murfreesboro Police Department and Hertford County Sheriff’s Office.

“The call for assistance was based more on crowd control than the other small skirmishes that broke out,” Smith noted. “We know and appreciate that the majority of the students gathered on the football field did what they were asked to do by law enforcement and by school staff. It was only a small handful of students who were causing 95 percent of the problems.”

Smith praised all the officers involved for handling the situation in a professional manner.

“Despite all the skirmishes, no physical force was used to break those up,” he said.

Smith added that Northampton deputies were at the school on Friday to ensure order.

Meanwhile, Thursday’s incidents on the football field may yield other arrests.

“What we’re doing now is working closely with the school officials to make sure nothing like this happens again,” Smith stressed. “The parents of schoolchildren in our county can rest assured that we are doing everything within our power to encourage and promote a safe and orderly learning environment within our schools. We encourage parents to talk to their children that school isn’t a boxing ring, it’s there to learn in a safe environment. We also encourage parents to teach their children to listen and follow instructions issued by law enforcement officers and school personnel.”

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

email author More by Cal