CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Three people were arrested after a social media threat forced Olympic High School in southwest Charlotte to be placed on a modified lockdown Tuesday morning, officials said.
As students and families remain on edge with the recent findings of guns in local schools, one of the three students charged in connection with a gun at Olympic High School spoke to Channel 9 about the incident.
Victor Campos Romero, 16, said he was in the wrong place at the wrong time when he should've been in school. He wants it known that he is not a violent person and that he’s sorry.
Police said they charged Romero and two 15-year-olds in connection with the case. All three are charged with possession of a handgun by a minor. One of the 15-year-olds is also charged with possession of a handgun on educational property.
"My name is all over the media. I’m associated with gun violence,” Romero said.
(Victor Manuel Campos Romero)
Officials said an Instagram post showed several people and a gun in a neighborhood near the school on Sandy Porter Road.
When officers arrived, they said no suspects were on campus, nor was there a gun.
During the course of the investigation, police said they identified one of the 15-year-old suspects, found him and charged him.
They were also able to locate the two other suspects and eventually determined a gun had been on the campus at some point.
Romero said he picked up two friends early Tuesday morning, one of whom is tied to a social media post showing a gun that sent the high school into a lockdown.
Romero told Channel 9 he didn't know about the post until after he picked them up.
“For me, it was like, 'What the heck? You could have told me this while we were over there,’ and I simply just asked, ‘Do you have the gun in the car?’ Both of them answered and said, ‘Yes.' They showed me the gun."
Romero said he dropped one of the teens at his house, and Romero and the other friend drove home.
“I had no idea that it was still in my car until we came back here and he said, ‘I'm hiding this,’ and I said, ‘No, I can’t have this here. I want no part in this.’ I panicked. I didn’t know what to do with it.”
Police circled Romero's home, and he was taken into custody and charged with having a handgun as a minor.
According to court records in police interviews, Romero admitted to bringing the firearm into the apartment, removing the magazine and putting them into the laundry.
The report says detectives have video of him handling the gun.
"All the people that I love and that know me know that I wouldn’t (do) nothing like this,” Romero said. “Choose wisely who you’re going to be with. Just go to school, learn. That’s what you're there for."
Dozens of concerned parents contacted Channel 9 before 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, trying to find out what was going on at the school.
About 100 parents and family members had gathered outside the school waiting to hear what was going on inside.
Most, if not all of them, had heard from their sons or daughters, who had told them that there was anywhere from one to three people on campus with a gun. Some had even heard that there may have been shots fired.
The school principal and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools police officers came out several times to let parents know that there was no ongoing threat, but many parents were skeptical.
Principal Erik Olejarczyk said the campus was on a modified lockdown as a precaution due to the social media threat.
Olejarczyk said students and staff were safe but that nobody was allowed on or off the campus until the lockdown was lifted.
The following message was sent to Olympic parents during the initial lockdown:
"This is Principal Erik Olejarczyk calling to let you know our school is on lockdown. Students and staff are safe. No one will be allowed on or off campus until the lockdown is lifted. We are on lockdown as a precaution due to a threat on social media. Law enforcement is on campus to investigate. I will call again as soon as possible with an update."
The principal met concerned parents outside the school just before 9 a.m. to let them know that their children were safe and that they were doing their due diligence.
CMS said parents who wished to pick up their students could do so and that students would be released to authorized parents or guardians.
Officials said law enforcement would meet families picking up students at the Olympic campus entrance and would escort families to the office to meet their students.
CMS public statement issued at 10 a.m.:
Olympic High School families,
Staff and students at Olympic High School are safe. Olympic HS remains on lockdown. The campus is secure and law enforcement continues to investigate. Parents who wish to pick their students up from Olympic HS may now do so. Students will be released to authorized parents or guardians. Law enforcement will meet families picking up students at the Olympic campus entrance and will escort families to the office to meet their students in an orderly fashion. Families are being notified through direct phone calls. CMS, Olympic High School and law enforcement ask everyone to remain calm to help ensure safety for everyone. Thank you for your cooperation.
Around 10:45 a.m., CMS and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department updated the public on the situation by saying an indirect threat led to the lockdown.
CMS officials said the modified lockdown allowed for movement of staff and students in campus buildings.
Marquisa Davis was one of the hundreds of parents who came to the school after hearing about the lockdown and said Olympic has trained for this scenario. She said these situations are not easy to handle.
“Some of the parents were saying, ‘I wish we would’ve known before the social media.’ But before they can put something out to the public they have to make sure that they know what’s going on. They have to wait until the district tells them what to do and the police officers tell them what to do,” Davis said. “So, I think they did what comes first and foremost, and that’s making sure our kids are safe.”
CMS public statement issued at 11 a.m.:
Olympic High School is now on a modified lockdown from law enforcement with limited movement in campus buildings. Staff and students at Olympic High School remain safe. The Olympic High School campus is secure and law enforcement continues to investigate. Students will be released to authorized parents or guardians. Law enforcement will meet families at the Olympic campus entrance to meet their students in an orderly fashion. For students and families unable to arrange immediate transportation home by authorized parents or guardians, students will remain safe on campus. CMS Transportation will pick students up on a regular schedule from campus and take them home to their normally assigned bus stops. Teachers, counselors and administrators are supporting students and support will be available in the coming days. Thank you for your cooperation.
This was not the only security incident on a Charlotte-Mecklenburg school campus Tuesday.
Police said a 19-year-old was arrested for having a stolen gun at East Mecklenburg High School.
Officers said a 13-year-old student was also found with a pocket Taser at Eastway Middle School. They said no one was hurt or threatened. The eighth-grader is charged with possession of a weapon on school grounds.
Parents told Channel 9 they're concerned about the ongoing safety issues.
“At the end of the day, we need to come together and say, 'What can we do to really solve this issue?' This is the fourth school that there’s been a threat of gun violence within the last month span. We’ve had Butler, Garinger, Hopewell and now Olympic, and this has to stop,” parent Myron Barnes said.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and CMS police will work on the investigations from Tuesday together.
Anyone with information about these cases is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (704) 334-1600.
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