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Tense day at schools resolved peacefully / November 13, 2019

What began as a tense situation for schools in South Hill on Thursday ended peacefully Friday morning when a man who was thought to have been hiding in the woods across from Park View High School surrendered to Sheriff’s deputies without incident.

Reports that an armed and potentially dangerous man was roaming the woods behind the trash dumpster site near the high and middle schools prompted law enforcement to call for a lockdown Thursday afternoon at all three schools in South Hill — Park View High School, Park View Middle School and South Hill Elementary School.

Sheriff Bobby Hawkins said deputies found the man at a home in the South Hill area around 8 a.m., Friday. He was unharmed and offered no resistance when officers took him into custody. Hawkins did not release the suspect’s name nor the location where he was found.

The sheriff said the decision to lock down the three schools was “done out of caution. There was no evidence the suspect posed a threat to anyone other than himself.” That same caution was the reason “officers were stationed at the schools and had formed a perimeter was on US 1 [Highway 58],” Hawkins said.

Hawkins confirmed that students were released at their regular time on Thursday and there was no delay to the start of classes on Friday morning.

The search for the suspect began Thursday afternoon after deputies conducted a wellness check at the suspect’s home in the South Hill area. According to the father who was at the home when deputies arrived, he’d tried to get a temporary custody order on his son, but the request was denied. When the father returned home, his son was gone and had taken a rifle with him.

The three schools in South Hill were put on lockdown around 1:30 p.m. as area police, including deputies with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, State Troopers, officers with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and South Hill town officers began their search for the suspect who was described as potentially suicidal and in possession of a high-powered rifle. At the time, police had reason to believe he was located in the woods on the south side of U.S. 58/Highway 1 behind the trash collection site.

Superintendent of Schools Paul Nichols notified the public of the incident by posting word of the lockdown on his blog at, and on the school division’s social media page. He also stressed that no other schools in the county were impacted by the event.

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Why was he taken into custody? When did it become a crime to walk in the woods that is NOT SCHOOL property? These types of laws imho are unconstitutional. We are slowly becoming slaves to safety. Life is a gamble.

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