Waynesville Middle School lockdown is lifted; man jailed for possession

By Vicki Hyatt | Oct 10, 2016

A lockdown at Waynesville Middle School was lifted at at 2:25 p.m. Monday after Haywood County school officials received word that a suspect in the area believed to be armed was apprehended.

The soft lockdown was initiated at 1:45 p.m. Monday after a person ran onto Waynesville Middle School property and called 9-1-1 to report a suspect with a gun was chasing him.

Lt. Tyler Trantham said the situation was communicated to  the school resource officer, and said officers with the Waynesville Police Department arrived on site within minutes.

"At no point were any kids or anyone in the school in any danger," Trantham said.

Within the hour, Charles Thomas Ray, Jr., 41, who was obviously under the influence of drugs, Trantham said, was arrested for drug possession and the person who Ray said was following him was tracked down. No gun was found.

"He told several different stories, and we spoke with others in the vicinity," Trantham said. "We found what he (Ray) said wasn't true."

Associate Superintendent Bill Nolte said school officials enacted a "soft lockdown," which means all the doors to the school are locked and no students will be leaving the building they are in until word is received that the situation is under control. Classes continued during the lockdown.

Trantham praised the system in use within the school, which effectively communicates with staff members and parents about alerts such as the one Monday.

This situation is similar to another event last week where the Haywood County Sheriff's office was pursuing a suspect who fled a vehicle in the Bethel community, Nolte said. A soft lockdown was initiated during that situation, as well.