Mother of NHHS shooting suspect: ‘They failed my child and they failed me’

Domanae Deablo says her struggle with district leaders to create a safe environment is no longer just about her child
Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 3:59 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) -The family of the 15-year-old accused of firing shots and injuring another student at New Hanover High School is sharing new details about what they say led up to Monday’s shooting.

Domanae Deablo says her struggle with district leaders to create a safe environment is no longer just about her child.

On Thursday morning, approximately 40 community members — football coaches, teachers and community activists — filled the Sokoto House to support the 15-year-old and his mother.

“I feel love, this shows that my son is loved,” said Deablo tearfully. “He’s a good person, he’s an amazing kid but that they just know something isn’t right with this.”

The mother says her family has feared for her son’s safety for some time now. She claims her son was attacked on school grounds on the very first day of the school year, before he even got into the building.

Her son was suspended for 10 days at first, and she says that suspension was shortened to five days when leaders determined the attacker wasn’t a New Hanover High student.

The same day shots rang out in New Hanover High School was her son’s first day back.

Deablo says she was nervous about sending him back to school, and shortly after he arrived at New Hanover High, the family received screenshots that someone wanted to hurt him. Deablo’s husband visited the school, had the secretary call the 15-year-old down to the office and checked in on him just 30 minutes before the fight that preceded the shooting broke out on the catwalk during a class change.

“He’s jumped by multiple people and I believe there’s videos out that can display everything else. Anything further than that, I will not speak on. I’ll leave that up to the judge,” said Deablo.

Deablo declined to say whether her son brought a gun to school or fired the shots Monday morning.

The mother says her son previously went to Laney, but changed schools after the family moved. While she vehemently denies her son is in anyway affiliated with a gang, he was still targeted.

“It’s a side of town thing, if you’re not from the side of town, then you don’t come on this side. There’s a lot of gang, rival gang stuff going on; it’s a lot of things going on [in] this community that we’re all aware of,” said Deablo. “Clearly the message that I showed the Board of Education said, you know, he wasn’t safe in Hanover — go back to Laney, boy.”

Deablo says after the fight the first day, she spoke to the school’s assistant principal and even went to the board to come up with a plan to keep her child safe, but it was not enough to prevent Monday’s events.

“When parents come to you, they reach out to you, they ask you to put things in place, you put things in place. The whole video we were watching — the video was very long. Not one adult presence in that video,” said Deablo. “They failed my child and they failed me.”

While she says she went through the proper channels with the district, she can’t help but regret sending him to school that day.

Now the teen is still detained and awaits his day in juvenile court, and the families touched by Monday’s shooting will likely never be the same.

“I don’t condone any violence, I don’t like any of this, I just pray for every family that’s involved and I do sincerely,” said Deablo. “We will get through this and I’m not gonna stop, I’m gonna fight for my son, I wanna save (him) and that’s that.”

After reaching out to the school district to answer questions related to the student’s suspensions, WECT received the following statement:

“The incident on Monday, August 30, 2021, at New Hanover High School is a part of an ongoing law enforcement investigation, and the district will not be commenting further at this time. New Hanover County Schools is working closely with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement to assist in their investigation.

“We understand this incident has had far-reaching implications across our community, and we are focused on prioritizing the safety and well-being of our students and staff. Our district crisis response team will continue to serve our students and staff at New Hanover High School with counseling and other resources for as long as they are needed.”

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