Student charged for bringing gun on Pender school property - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Student charged for bringing gun on Pender school property

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Robert Lee Cox III was charged with possession of a gun on education property. (Source: Pender County Sheriff's Office) Robert Lee Cox III was charged with possession of a gun on education property. (Source: Pender County Sheriff's Office)

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A student accused of bringing a gun on Topsail High School property Friday night was charged Tuesday.

Robert Lee Cox III, 16, from Hampstead was charged with possession of a gun on educational property. He was taken before a magistrate in Burgaw Tuesday and was given a $500 unsecured bond, according to Captain Jamie Ezzell.

Deputies who were working on the night of the incident are being interviewed about the situation.

Pender County Sheriff Carson Smith said the student accused is a relative of one of his deputies. Smith said he believes Cox is the former stepson of Deputy Grant.

Ezzell said the relationship isn't a reason to raise an eyebrow though, because the family is divorced.

"There's no kinship between that individual and the individual that works at the sheriff's office," said Ezzell.

Ezzell later added that an incident report was not filed Friday night because the deputies involved were technically not on duty. The school contracts deputies to work during football games. They were doing a routine search of the parking lot, shining flashlights in vehicles and came across an unloaded shotgun.

Ezzell said the deputies planned to file the incident report Wednesday when they returned to duty. But so much attention to the case caused Captain Ezzell to call in the deputies to complete the report Monday.

Joyce Keith, a spokesperson for Pender County Schools, also confirmed a gun was found on school property Friday, but could not immediately say if the student was in class Monday morning. The principal at Topsail High School said he would not comment due to student confidentiality.

Pender County Board of Education met Monday night in a closed session, but Superintendent Rachel Manning said no decision was made. She added that her decision to modify the student's punishment will be based on a complete review of the incident.

"You can't predict what's going happen," said Manning, "but I do feel our campuses are very safe."

A spokesperson for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction said it is up to each individual school district to decide punishment when a weapon is found on school property.

[See the list of potential punishment options (PDF)]

According to Keith, disciplinary action will be based on Pender County and State Board of Education Policies when the investigation is complete.

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