Johnston County News

Recent incidents have some wondering if Johnston County schools have a gang problem

BENSON, N.C. (WNCN) - The sign outside of West Johnston High School encourages parents to check social media to keep up with what is happening at the school, but students say it leaves out what's really happening behind the school gates.

"It gets pretty crazy walking down the hallway seeing a bunch of random people," said student Desirae Moreno.

"There are some fights that break out in the hallways," said student Austin Russell. "There was a fight in the classroom recently."

The arrest warrant of that 16-year-old student reads as a simple assault. Speculation on social media has some questioning whether or not it was gang related.

"They claim to be, anyway," Russell said.

"I've heard multiple people say that, but I don't take it too seriously," said Moreno.

"I don't hear them claim to be a typical gang," said Russell. "They just claim to be a Blood or a Crip."

West Johnston was put on lockdown last year after seven people were stopped by school employees while trying to enter the school.

"It was scary because Parkland had just happened," said Moreno.

"We were in lockdown for an hour or two," said Russell.

CBS 17 reached out to Johnston County Public Schools to see if it felt the district has a gang problem or if there is any connection between the incidents. The district sent out the following statement:

While there are individuals in the school system who may say they are part of a group, organization, or "gang", if you want to call it that, Dr. Renfrow and Principal Jennifer Schwartz have no knowledge of any "gang" problem within the school system. If incidents occur on campus, SRO's are directed to investigate and handle criminal matters in conjunction with school officials.  In the course of the investigation, a statement or statements given by students may indicate membership in a group or organization, but that is seldom the case. And while outside the school setting, there may be groups of students or others who say they are a gang, school administrators are vigilant to not allow these outside groups to interfere with the educational learning environment of the schools.

In conclusion, if anyone perceives or has knowledge of a "gang" problem, it should be bought to the school administration's attention and the situation will be promptly addressed by Sheriff's Department SRO and school personnel.

"I think they think that being involved in that kind of stuff is going to get them higher and in better places, but it's all talk to me," said Moreno.

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