ALBEMARLE — Ernest M. Sellers, a parent of an Albemarle Middle School student, was charged with two counts of “assault on a school employee or volunteer” and one count of “threat of mass school violence,” according to the Albemarle Police Department, after an alleged altercation at the school.
On Dec. 3, according to district officials, two female students at the middle school were brought to the office after engaging in a physical fight. Their parents were called to the school, and one of the parents, Sellers, along with his wife and their friend, came into the office and began loudly arguing with school resource officer Kim Cook and school administrators.
Superintendent Jeff James of Stanly County Schools told SCJ that several times during loud shouting, Sellers said he would “f— this place up,” which James believed to be a threat of mass violence. He also said Sellers referred to his membership in the Crips street gang in a threatening way.
The two students who had been in the fight were behind a door in another room, and when they came out, the confrontation escalated even further, according to district officials. James said there is a video of the incident, and in it, Sellers can be seen rushing toward the girl who had been fighting with his daughter.
Cook and others tried to prevent him from harming the student, and in the resulting struggle, James said Sellers struck the assistant principal in the forehead and then pushed a female bus driver to the ground.
After being arrested and charged, Sellers was released on a $5,000 unsecured bond, according to an Albemarle Police Department press release. In an unsecured bond, a prisoner is released and is only responsible for paying the bond if he doesn’t show up to his court date.
James believes it sends a bad message that Sellers received an unsecured bond and was released until his court date.
“We’re pretty upset about it. We think it’s a slap in the face to school personnel,” James said. “When an adult can make it into our office area, as irate as he was, assault two staff members, go after a student and communicate mass threats of violence, and be given zero bond — I have grave concerns.
“This community has got to understand. We’re dealing with a different world than we were five or 10 years ago,” James added. “We’re having volatile situations at the school that we have to handle, and we need the support of everyone, and that includes law enforcement, and it includes the magistrate.”
Calls to the Stanly County District Attorney’s office for comment were not returned as of Dec. 10.
Sellers is next due in court Dec. 16 at 9 a.m.
Albemarle Police Department responded to another incident two days later, on Dec. 5, when Central Elementary School was placed on lockdown also due to concern over a parent on campus.
According to Principal Melissa Smith, “The school was never in any danger,” and this was just out of an abundance of caution. After further review, they determined there was no reason to be concerned with the parent, and the alert was quickly lifted.