Eighth-grader charged in N.C. school shooting

Friday, September 26, 2003

LAWNDALE, N.C. -- An eighth-grader fired two shots inside a middle school Thursday morning, but no one was injured and the boy was quickly taken into custody by a sheriff's deputy working at the school, a school spokeswoman said.

Justin Daniel Earwood, 13, was charged with felony possession of a firearm on school property.

In his first appearance in district court later Thursday, he was silent as his parents stood behind him. He did not enter a plea.

The student fired a 9mm handgun inside Burns Middle School at about 8 a.m. as fellow students were heading to their first classes of the day, Cleveland County schools spokeswoman Donna Carpenter said.

Cleveland County deputy Tim Russ, who is assigned to the school,"basically tackled the student and took the weapon away from him" when he refused to drop his weapon, Carpenter said.

"He prevented this from being any worse that it was," she said.

School officials have not determined whether the student was firing at anyone, Carpenter said.

The school was locked down because of the gunshots. Some students just arriving were kept on their buses for more than hour, while teachers and students inside the building went into classrooms and shut the doors, Carpenter said. Classes continued after the student was taken into custody, but students who wanted to go home were allowed to leave.

"I think everybody realized why we practice this drill so many times," Carpenter said.

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