17 charged after several fights broke out at Mallard Creek High, officials say

CHARLOTTE — Police charged 17 people with affray the day after several fights broke out Thursday at Mallard Creek High School, officials said. No weapons were found or seized.

The fights triggered a lockdown at the school and after, parents told Channel 9 they are concerned the district isn’t doing enough to protect their children.

A voicemail message from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to Mallard Creek High School parents Thursday stated that the school on Johnston Oehler Road in north Charlotte was on lockdown due to a series of fights.

Chopper 9 Skyzoom flew over the school around noon and could see police officers standing near one of the building doors. It appeared parents were also outside the doors speaking with officers.

An ambulance was also spotted outside the school and MEDIC said they took one person with minor injuries to the hospital.

Police said officers were called to the high school around 11 a.m. to help the School Resource Officer on campus in reference to a fight. CMPD said it was still investigating and that more details would be released.

A parent shared video with Channel 9 that they said their child recorded from inside the school Thursday morning. The footage showed a large group of students fighting with each other in the school hallways as classmates gathered around, many with their phones out, recording the brawl.

The images were all too familiar. Star Capello rushed to the school to be first in line to pick up her junior after she got the call from the school’s principal.

“As a mom, that hurts,” Star Capello said.

Capello is aware of what’s been going on at CMS, and wanted to know why it seemed like nothing was being done.

“Why are we waiting for a situation to happen? If I have to ring the bell to get into that door because you are worried about who is coming in, how come we’re not making sure our children are safe amongst each other?”

CMS sent the following message to parents:

“This is Principal Dean with an important message. A series of fights broke out this morning, and our school went on lockdown. Law enforcement was called to ensure the safety and security of our students. We are currently on a modified lockdown and lunch is being postponed as we investigate these incidents. This is unacceptable behavior and a violation of the Code of Student Conduct. Students who violate the code will be disciplined accordingly.”

Parents ask how CMS is keeping kids safe

Thursday’s lockdown brought up concerns from parents like Capello who wanted to know what CMS was doing to protect their children. Channel 9 reached out to CMS for information on what they are doing and what is on the table when it comes to security.

District Attorney Spencer Merriweather told Channel 9 meetings will be held in the future to address the spending from the DA, the district superintendent, and the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council.

“We don’t talk as much about prevention as we want to, about how it is we communicate to a child to be thinking about the importance of your life, the importance of your future,” Merriweather told Channel 9.

Merriweather said the guns and other weapons found at schools in the district this year are unacceptable.

“17 guns ending up in our schools and our places of learning is atrocious, and has to come to an end,” he said. “Whatever resources it takes to bring that, to solve that problem, we got to do it.”

A breakdown of CMS’ security spending

So what’s being done?

CMS told Channel 9 anchor Allison Latos it spent millions of dollars on security upgrades over the past few years and in Fiscal Year 2021.

CMS requested more than $9 million specifically for security upgrades in Fiscal Year 2019. They only spent $4.6 million of it, part of which went toward “establishing detection enhancements” using metal detection equipment and gun detection K9s.

Channel 9 learned Thursday those metal detectors and K9s are used randomly at schools across the district, but only Turning Point Academy and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Academy have their own permanent metal detectors.

In FY 2021, another $4.6 million was spent on things like new security cameras, replacing doors, and new badge software for visitors.

DA Merriweather said he’s not shy about asking for more resources as long as all options remain on the table.

“At our core, we want to see our schools be places of learning, in places of safety, in places of peace,” Merriweather said. “Before we get to the questions of security at the gate to make our schools a whole lot safer, we need to get about the business of doing that.”

(WATCH BELOW: 5 students charged, 2 guns found following fight at Hopewell High School)