Jackson parade incident scrutinized

Published 3:54 pm Tuesday, December 13, 2022

JACKSON – No charges have been filed after a man displayed a gun to a group of middle school students, but police say they’re still investigating.

The incident occurred in Jackson on Saturday, Dec 10 right before the town’s Christmas parade was scheduled to begin. According to Jackson Police Chief John Young, students from Conway Middle School’s band had just arrived and were getting ready to line up for the festivities.

“They were disembarking from the bus, and they were warming up their instruments,” Young said.

He noted that they were near a house on the corner of Calvert and Peebles Street as they were lining up for the parade. That’s when an individual came outside and asked them to be quiet. That individual then went back inside the residence and came back out with a shotgun.

“He never pointed it at anyone. He never threatened anyone, and went back in the house,” Young stated, adding that his department responded quickly and left an officer posted there at the scene to ensure safety during the parade.

“After the parade was over, I came back and interviewed the individual,” Young continued. “At that point in time, I didn’t have any elements of the law to arrest him. But I wanted to do a further investigation.”

He said he’s working with both the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation on the matter.

“We’re not going to take this lightly. We want to be transparent and open. We’re not trying to cover anything up whatsoever. And we’re going to do our due diligence on this,” Young emphasized.

He also encouraged anyone who witnessed the incident to come give a written statement.

As of Monday morning, however, Young told the News Herald that the investigation so far found no direct threats and that the individual did not point the gun at anyone.

“At this time, we can’t really see where he actually did anything we can arrest him for,” Young said, though he strongly condemned the man’s actions.

“It wasn’t anything threatening other than displaying the gun, which is, to me, not the right thing to do,” Young said. “Even if you did or did not plan on using it, you don’t just go out and display a shotgun. That’s kind of intimidating to a bunch of sixth to eighth grade kids.”

“If I was a parent (of those children), I’d be upset myself. I understand that,” he continued. “It’s human nature to be protective of our children. And that kind of action was uncalled for. We do not condone that in any way, shape, form, or fashion.”

Young declined to identify the individual with the gun.

A statement posted to the school district’s website from Northampton Superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins said that Conway [Middle School] administration and staff responded immediately to Saturday’s incident and notified law enforcement.

“All the students are safe and no one was harmed,” Atkins said. “However, Northampton County Schools values the safety of its students and staff and will be cooperating fully with law enforcement to gather information in their ongoing investigation into this incident.”

“We are well aware of the effects this could have on our students and there will be crisis counselors available on Monday at Conway Middle School for any of the students who may have need. Safety of staff and students is highest priority. Thank you for your patience while this incident is being addressed,” she concluded.