A report of gunshots at Parkland Park on Friday brought law enforcement officers swarming to Parkland High School and the nearby neighborhood for a second time this week, with one vehicle damaged by gunfire but no one hurt.
Winston-Salem police and Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office deputies first got the call as a fight in progress at 3:54 p.m. While they were en route, another call came in reporting the discharging of firearms at Parkland Park, which is on Brewer Road in sight of the high school.
Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough said while the high school was in the process of letting out students for the day, a man who was not on the campus fired gunshots toward students and the school, after he came out from some woods nearby. The sheriff’s office could not say whether the gunfire was aimed at participants in the fight or students.
Tricia McManus, the superintendent of schools, said that shots were heard at the school but “thankfully they were not on our campus.” She went on to say that school officials have “no information to suggest this event involved anyone on our campus.”
Deputies chased the suspect but lost track of him, Kimbrough said. Authorities are continuing to look for the suspect as they continue to investigate.
Students told of being terrified as they heard the sound of gunshots while many of them stood outside the school building.
Danasja Horne, a junior, was at Parkland High School talking to a friend, waiting on her bus.
“And I heard ‘Pow, pow, pow,’” Horne said. “I thought it was fireworks. It was like a gunfight.”
The school resource officers yelled at students who were outside to get back into the building. Students were sent to the gymnasium for a lockdown that lasted about an hour.
“You see people running, and you run with them,” said Isaiah Winfield, a sophomore.
A man who lives near the park said that before the shooting, he was driving north on Brewer Road in front of the tennis courts parking lot when he saw a crowd of about 30 young people gathered on the lot. Two of the people got into a fight that lasted a minute or so, he said.
As people got into their cars to leave, he said, gunfire erupted.
“After the shooting started, they (the crowd) all spilled out,” he said. “People were slamming on their horns trying to pull out. You could hear (bullets) whizzing through the air. It was terrifying. It was the most insane thing I have ever seen in my life.”
Bernard Walker lives right across Brewer Road from Parkland Park. He was at home when he heard what he called “random shots.”
“My first instinct was to take cover, because they were very, very close,” he said. “So I went in the back room and stayed until things were clear.”
Walker said he heard “a continuous round of fire” but doesn’t know how many shots were fired. “I really wasn’t counting because I was trying to take cover,” he said. “I knew … that it was close, and I was just hoping a bullet didn’t come and hit anybody’s house. But … it was a lot of shots.”
Kalayah Teiara, a ninth-grader at Parkland, was out in front of the school when dismissal came and heard the sound of gunfire.
“We started running, and I’m like, ‘Aaaah!, they shooting,’” Teiara said.
She and other students ran back into the school.
“I was screaming, I was so shocked,” she said. “I was running so fast, couldn’t nobody catch me. I didn’t know how to react. It just happened out of nowhere, out of the blue, and it was unexpected.”
As officers converged on Parkland High School on Friday, they blocked Brewer Road at its intersection with Peters Creek Parkway. Traffic on the parkway started clogging to a halt as the blue lights from law officer’s cars flashed across the lawns of the school campus.
Outside of Parkland, near the Aldi grocery store at the intersection of Cliff Street and Brewer Road, anxious parents gathered, their phones pressed to their ears.
The scene at the school was reminiscent of the parent gathering that took place earlier this month among Mount Tabor High School parents, who waited to reunite with their children after a student, William Chavis Renard Miller Jr., was shot to death outside a classroom on the school’s campus.
Since the shooting at Mount Tabor on Sept. 1, a handful of other incidents at high schools have left parents and students on edge.
Superintendent McManus said school staff followed protocols and moved students inside while law enforcement officers investigated.
“A horrific incident on the Mount Tabor campus, a fight at Parkland, both appear to be related to conflicts that did not start at school,” she said, adding that the community “must all come together to examine strategies for how to protect our students and teach our teens positive behaviors inside and outside of school.”
Parents and students talked on Friday about the toll the incidents have taken.
Rosa Garcia stood on a patch of grass across the school with other parents. Her son, Angel, was waiting for the bus when he heard several shots. Through tears, he was able to tell her on the phone that he was OK.
“Honestly, all this week, he didn’t want to come to school,” Garcia said of her son. “He said, ‘Ma, I don’t want to go to school. I don’t want to go.’”
When the lockdown was over, students made their way toward their parents, one girl running into the open arms of a woman who hustled her away.
One mother found her son, gave him a hug and said: “He doesn’t want to talk. But he won’t be coming back.”
One student, who declined to give her name, said she was already on the bus, when she was told to get off and run to the gym. In the chaos, she heard two students had died. That was not true.
“I didn’t know what was going on,” she said. “This is the second lockdown of this week. This is an amazing school, but it’s hard to enjoy your high school experience when there’s gang violence. It needs to stop.”
Kimbrough vowed to find out who fired the shots.
“By the grace of God, we didn’t have a kid struck,” Kimbrough said. “By the grace of God, we didn’t have a kid dead.”
Since the fatal shooting at Mount Tabor, eight to 10 deputies have been assigned to Parkland as school resource officers, Kimbrough said. The school has been the subject on online threats since the Mount Tabor shooting. A gun was found at Parkland High School on Sept. 8.
The events at Parkland on Friday caused no change to the Friday night football schedule, and no incidents were reported at the game between Parkland and Glenn High School. A fight had broken out Monday night at a soccer game between the two schools, authorities said. A deputy dispersed more than 30 people in relation to that incident, which happened at Glenn, but there were no injuries reported.
Meanwhile, on Friday, the school district implemented a new clear-bag rule for all district events.
“The new guidelines are meant to provide a safe and secure environment for our students, parents, community members, athletes, staff, and officials,” the district said in a statement.
Visitors will be prohibited from entering venues with camera cases, briefcases, backpacks, cinch bags, large purses, and similar items. Approved bags include clear, gallon-sized zip storage bags, clear totes and small purses. At athletic events or outdoor ceremonies, spectator chairs and blankets will be allowed but are subject to search.
McManus said everyone needs to be “the eyes and ears when students aren’t in school, when the conflicts arise, or when young people gain access to weapons.”
“Our law enforcement partners and our schools need you to tell us what you know,” she said. “Now more than ever we need you to continue working with us to create environments where children see that violence is never the answer.”