Shots fired calls over recent weeks lead to several “soft lockdowns” of Whiteville school

Community leaders held a conversation over the weekend about school safety

Whiteville school locked down after shots fired

WHITEVILLE, N.C. (WECT) - Central Middle School in Whiteville has gone on lockdown several times in recent weeks after reports of gunfire nearby. Everyone had to stay inside and no guests were allowed in or out.

Whiteville Police Chief Douglas Ipock believes people were firing shots in the air, not at any children. But bullets fired up, must come down and the chief is worried one of those stray bullets might end up hitting an innocent student.

“The kids are the ones that are going to suffer, because they’re not going to want to go about their routine from that point forward,” said Ipock. "Especially if they know a friend just got shot. "

At the school, Superintendent Dr. Marc Whichard said while lockdowns are done for safety reasons, they also impact student learning.

“Any time we have to have a soft lockdown or extra security measure put in place is disruptive to the learning environment," said Whichard. "Our main goal is to maintain our mission and focus of education services for students so we don’t have those type of disruptions.”

These concerns brought all interested parties together over the weekend for a community conversation. School officials, law enforcement and community leaders were making sure everyone was on the same page when it comes to protecting and enriching young lives.

“I’ve been very pleased with how staff and students have responded,” said Whichard. "Our plans have worked well and we do have every protection and precaution in place.

“Understanding that we’re there to help them, to be a part of the community as well and if the kids need something, grab us," said Ipock. "That’s what we’re here for, especially if they feel unsafe.”

No shots have been fired at the school, only in surrounding areas.

And Superintendent Whichard said he believes, that for these students to do well both in an out of school, it’s up to the community to help keep them safe and help them learn.

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