This week’s fatal shooting of a student at Mount Tabor High School affected most deeply the people with direct ties to the student and the school. But it also affected an entire community.
Camille Siddle, an employee at Campus Gas on Polo Road — five minutes from the school — recalled Friday that many Mount Tabor parents sought temporary refuge at the restaurant while they waited anxiously to pick up their children after the shooting.
“The parents of the students who came here felt like this was a safe place,” Siddle said. “They were very concerned about their children.
“I could see how upset they were. They wanted to know whether their kids were safe.”
William Chavis Renard Miller Jr., a Mount Tabor student, was shot at the school at 12:05 p.m. Wednesday, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office said. Miller later died at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist of his injuries.
His alleged assailant, who is believed to be another Mount Tabor student, was arrested without incident later on Wednesday. Authorities have not released the suspect’s name, age and whether he has been charged or any details they have about the circumstances leading to the shooting.
The shooting brought a massive response by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies Wednesday to the high school, the Mount Tabor community and throughout Winston-Salem.
When Siddle learned about the shooting Wednesday, she immediately locked the doors of Campus Gas at 1231 Polo Road because she was the only employee at the business at the time.
She saw Winston-Salem police cars traveling fast on Polo Road toward the high school. She later saw the school buses carrying Mount Tabor students to be reunited with their parents at Joel Coliseum.
“It was a lot that was happening,” Siddle said. “I was so lost to why someone would do that (fire a gun) in a school.”
Siddle said she knows a few students who attend Mount Tabor.
“I feel like it (the shooting) caused a bunch of trauma to the kids, especially the kids who witnessed the shooting,” Siddle said.
Randy Ingram, the supervisor at Polo Park, said the shooting forced the lockdown of the park’s recreation center and Speas Elementary School, which is next to the park on Polo Road.
“It was just so sad,” Ingram said. “We have a lot of students from Mount Tabor who use the facility. It was a long day.”
When Ingram learned about Wednesday’s shooting, he was surprised that it happened at the high school, he said.
After Ingram spoke about the incident, a group of 18 students from Speas Elementary arrived at Polo Park Recreation Center to participate in its after-school program.
“I’m not sure they knew what had happened,” said Paul T. of Rural Hall, who accompanied the students to the recreation center. “Some of them knew that they went into lockdown for some shooting.”
Paul T. declined to give his last name to a Journal reporter because he said he wanted to maintain his privacy.
The Mount Tabor students whom Paul T. knows and himself are doing as well as can be expected to cope with the shooting, he said.
Greg Marino of Clemmons talked about the shooting as he stood by his car in a parking lot off Robinhood Road. Marino has a son who attends West Forsyth High School.
The shooting could have produced more victims and more terror for students and their parents, Marino said.
“If he (the shooter) was out to cause hysteria, he could have (shot) more people,” Marino said. “It would have caused a worse situation.”
Marino said he wasn’t sure how long it will take Mount Tabor High School and the Mount Tabor community to regain their sense of normalcy in the wake of the shooting.
Tuesday’s reopening of Mount Tabor High School is part of the process of people regaining a sense of normalcy, he said.
The high school was closed Thursday and Friday and will be closed Monday for Labor Day. It will reopen Tuesday.
Mount Tabor students were allowed to return to school Friday to gather their belongings that they left behind on Wednesday.
Mount Tabor was placed on immediate lockdown after the shooting. In some cases, students took shelter in classrooms and other areas of the school until law enforcement officers secured the building.
At the school’s administrative building on Friday, the U.S. flag flew at half-mast. A large video screen displayed a orange ribbon with a cross.