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17-year-old accused of hitting principal; school placed on lockdown

By Nathan Hardin
nhardin@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY – A 17-year-old was taken into custody after authorities said he broke a high school principal’s nose during an altercation near school Thursday.
According to arrest warrants, Michael Allen Joseph Jr., of Ashbrook Road in Salisbury, was charged with misdemeanor assault inflicting serious bodily injury and second-degree trespassing.
The school was placed under a code-yellow lockdown following the assault.
Joseph was one of about five camouflage-clad males standing near Henderson Independent High School around noon.
The school resource officer approached the group with principal Chris Vecchione, authorities said.
One person in the group began fidgeting with his pockets, officers said.
When the resource officer asked him about it, the male tossed a pistol on the ground, police said, and Joseph punched Vecchione in the face.
The group immediately dispersed, authorities said. Joseph was the only one arrested.
District spokeswoman Rita Foil said she sent out a ConnectEd automated voicemail message to make parents aware of the incident.
During a code yellow lockdown classes continue as usual, but all the doors to the school are locked and students are not allowed leave the building or participate in outside activities.
“The safety of our students is a top priority and we will continue to take all necessary measures in assuring that our school remains a safe environment for all our students,” Foil wrote in an email to the Post.
Deputy Police Chief Steve Whitley said officers are trying to identify the group’s other members.
Whitley said officers swept through nearby neighborhoods looking for the suspects after the assault.
Authorities do not believe the group was waiting near campus to harm a student.
“There is nothing that indicates they were lying in wait for someone,” Whitley said.
Joseph remained in Rowan County jail under a $20,000 bond Thursday evening.
Anyone with information about the assault is asked to contact the Salisbury Police Department at 704-638-5333 or Crime Stoppers at 1-866-639-5245.

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