A teacher at Paisley Magnet School in Winston-Salem was arrested Monday for allegedly storing a gun in her classroom last month after a student brought it to her, authorities said.
Sarah Melissa Wilson, a language-arts teacher, was charged with aid to a minor to possess a firearm on educational property, Winston-Salem police said. Investigators consulted with District Attorney Jim O’Neill before obtaining an arrest warrant against Wilson, police said.
Investigators determined that the gun was at Paisley Magnet School during the week of April 22, police said. A juvenile student told Wilson about the gun and gave it to her. Wilson then “allowed the firearm to be stored in the classroom,” and the juvenile student “to retrieve the handgun near the conclusion of the school day,” police said.
Wilson, 25, of Lexington surrendered to Winston-Salem Police and was released from custody on her written promise to appear in court on May 30, police said.
Wilson’s arrest came in the course of a police investigation of a firearm on the Paisley campus last week. The same weapon was involved in both the incident last week and the April case, police said in a news release Monday evening.
Meanwhile, police are also investigating threats at two other Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools: a handgun at Northwest Middle School on Monday and threats on social media toward Reynolds High School on Sunday.
Officers were called to Northwest Middle, at 5501 Murray Road, about 7:25 a.m. Monday after school officials were alerted that a student had a handgun in a classroom, police said. The student had the weapon in a book bag, according to investigators.
Police said there were no direct threats made to students or staff. However, juvenile charges will be sought in the case.
This came a day after threats were made on social media toward Reynolds High School, at 301 Hawthorne Road.
At least one of the threats was made on SnapChat and showed two guns and threatening language.
Police said in a news release Monday evening that they had identified the source of the disturbing posts and that the posts originated out of state. Local authorities are now working with law enforcement in that state, and the FBI, as they continue the investigation.
Police had additional officers at Reynolds on Monday and will have extra resources on campus as the investigation continues.
The district learned of the threat about 5:30 p.m Sunday, almost as soon as it appeared on social media and immediately notified law enforcement, said Brent Campbell, a spokesman for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.
Last week’s investigation at Paisley started Wednesday. The school resource officer began investigating after an allegation that a video on social media showed a student with a firearm at the school the day before. The officer then confirmed the video’s existence and identified the juvenile student — the same student that allegedly had given the gun to Wilson in April.
Officers recovered the handgun from another student on Thursday, police said. Officers learned that the second juvenile had also possessed the gun while on the property at Paisley Magnet School.
Authorities are pursing criminal charges against both juveniles involved in this incident, police said.
Campbell was uncertain how the reporting student may have seen the weapon or if the student overheard other people talking about a weapon.
“We were made aware that a student may have seen a weapon and police were called,” he said.
Campbell said police investigated the information on campus and made home visits, and officers confiscated a weapon. However, Campbell said he was uncertain where the weapon was taken from.
In a voicemail sent to parents on Friday, Paisley Principal Gary Cone said police are “pressing charges as the law allows. The individuals involved will also face disciplinary action under school district policy.”
Cone also reassured parents in the voicemail that school officials and police worked to ensure students were safe.
It was the first official communication with parents about the incident. It’s unclear when parents initially learned about the handgun’s discovery.
Campbell said it’s common practice to allow police to investigate the validity of a report, then share factual information as soon as possible.
“We do not send messages without knowing what we are relaying is factual,” Campbell said in an email later on Monday. “Any report brought to our attention, be it a concerning social media post or the report a weapon may have been seen on campus, is investigated and factual information is relayed as soon as possible.
“We always want to work with law enforcement so as not to interfere with getting to the bottom of the threat, issue, or reported crime,” Campbell said. “We take all reports seriously.”
Campbell said he is uncertain why threats in the district have spiked in the past week.
“We just encourage parents to be aware of what their students are doing, to continue to be vigilant in how weapons are secured and stored at home and continue making us aware anytime something concerns them,” he said.
Campbell also asked that people report any threats against schools when they see them on social media but not to re-post those threats because that makes it harder to find the original.