Police: ‘Student of interest’ left I.C. Norcom High School before officers arrived, warrant issued for arrest

Portsmouth

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — I.C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth was placed on internal lockdown Friday morning after a report that a “student of interest” was in the building.

Police were notified about the incident at 9:17 a.m. and the student left the building before officers arrived, police confirmed through surveillance video. A sweep was conducted for safety and to make sure no weapons were left behind and the search finished at 10:32 a.m. with no injuries reported.

Police have yet to confirm if the student did have a weapon. Police told 10 On Your Side there is an outstanding warrant for the student’s arrest.

I.C. Norcom Principal Laguna Foster said the suspect was a male student.

Initial reports said that it was a former student potentially carrying a weapon, but police said in an update that the student was “previously suspended.” WAVY’s working to clarify that information and gather more details.

Lauren Nolasco with Portsmouth Public Schools says the message below was originally sent out to parents from Foster.

“Good morning, I.C. Norcom families – This message is being sent on behalf of Principal Foster. Norcom High School is currently on an internal lockdown after administration was made aware that a former student was on campus and potentially carrying a weapon. Law enforcement is currently on the scene and searching for the student. We will update you when the lockdown has been lifted, but, as a reminder, no one will be allowed in or out of the building until that time. Thank you.”

Foster later sent another message to parents saying the lockdown was lifted and that the school would release early at 11:15 a.m. School officials were allowing some parents to come inside the school to take their children home and officers stayed at the scene.

“We want to thank our school security team, school resource officers and law enforcement for their diligent work in keeping our school safe,” Foster said. “As always, we thank you for your understanding and support of Norcom High School. Thank you.”

There were many upset parents outside the school on Friday morning, worried about their children’s safety and not sure what was happening. Even students as they exited weren’t sure what had happened to cause the lockdown.

WAVY’s Stephanie Hudson asked one student how he was feeling, and the increased number of violent incidents in general this year.

“I wouldn’t say I feel safe, I wouldn’t say I feel unsafe, to be honest none of the teachers here can protect me if I don’t got me I don’t got anybody,” said Markuell Williams.

Earlier this week, WAVY had a special report on the increase in violent outbursts, anxiety and depression this year as students returned to the classroom. Weapon offenses are up 125% in Portsmouth schools this year compared to 2019-20, and violent outburst and fights are also up.

I.C. Norcom High school on lockdown on Dec. 10, 2021, after a report of a former student on campus, potentially with a gun (WAVY/Larry Carney)

Parents at the scene told 10 On Your Side they do not believe their children are safe in the building and something must be done. Our Stephanie Hudson took those concerns to School Board Member, Tamara Shewmake.

Shewmake told us, “We have to just be cognizant that this is not a Portsmouth issue, this is not a 757 issue or Virginia issue this is a national crisis.”

Shewmake said the school district has a hotline and tips from it have stopped incidents from happening this year.

She added the superintendent just announced a pilot program that will test new door security at Manor High, but ending violence in schools she said, must start at home.

“I think we need to look at the parents, and for whatever reason we are just taking the onus off the parents and putting it on everyone else in society and that’s not fair,” she said.

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