The shooting at Mt. Tabor High School in Winston-Salem last week took the life of 15-year-old William Chavis Renard Miller Jr., who never had a chance. It also made the national news — briefly — not so much because school shootings are big news these days, but because there had been another in North Carolina, at New Hanover High in Wilmington, a day earlier.
Still, a few Triad City Beat staffers reported that several of their acquaintances were unaware of either shooting.
No one died at New Hanover, and though the suspected shooter was a juvenile, Sheriff Ed McMahon named him in a press conference and a tweet which was later deleted and DA Benjamin David charged him with attempted first-degree murder, assault with deadly weapon with intent to kill or inflict serious injury, possession of a weapon on school grounds and discharging a weapon on school grounds.
His mother has already spoken to local media. It is “unclear” according to news reports if the Wilmington shooter, who is Black, will be charged as a minor or as an adult.
In Winston-Salem, neither police nor the DA’s office has said anything other than a suspect was arrested “without incident” about six hours after the shooting. We know he is a juvenile — just 15 years old. And no one is talking to the press.
A week later, they owe us all more than that.
These things are true: Juveniles are accorded special status under the law and in the media. We protect their identities, particularly if they have not yet been charged, which is why the New Hanover Sheriff’s Office deleted the tweet naming the accused shooter.
But WSPD and the Forsyth County DA are hiding behind those truths, conflating them with this other thing that is also true: It has been a week; we need to know what the charges against this kid will be, whether he will be tried as a juvie or an adult. Eventually, we will need his name, as well as more details of the shooting that include the context of the incident as well as the weapon involved. We need to know whose gun it is.
We have our suspicions as to why these key components of the case are still being kept under wraps. Eventually, the facts will show if our cynicism is warranted.