Handgun missing after student brought it to school at West Rowan

Published 4:23 pm Friday, December 15, 2017

By Jessica Coates


MOUNT ULLA — The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office says a West Rowan High School student brought a revolver to school Wednesday in his backpack.

By his fourth period, the gun was gone.

Investigators say a classmate had taken it.

Noah Lance reported that a silver Taurus Model 6605, .357 revolver had been stolen. His principal, Brandon Earnhardt, called School Resource Officer Ryan Walker to talk with Lance and his mother, Angela Lance.

Angela Lance told Walker that Noah had accidentally left the gun in his backpack from the previous afternoon when he had been at his grandparents’ home shooting it.

Angela Lance said that once Noah realized the gun was in the backpack, he was scared to tell a school staff member.

Noah Lance said he had told two friends about the gun in his bag but no one else. He said he thought a third person might have overheard their conversation.

Noah Lance said he continued his day as usual until fourth period, when he left his backpack unattended. When he returned, he noticed that the bag was open and the gun was gone.

He said he confronted fellow student Mekhi Jermon Robinson, who he suspected had overheard the conversation about the gun.

Robinson did not respond to Lance, instead asking their teacher if he could go to another class to get a charger. After Robinson left the room, he did not return to class.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Walker and school personnel reviewed security footage and determined that Robinson left the campus after his encounter with Lance.

Detective Travis Allen, Walker and Sgt. Scott Flowers went to Robinson’s home in the 400 block of Ashbrook Road in Salisbury. They searched Robinson’s vehicle and did not find the weapon.

Robinson was “generally uncooperative” with the officers, according to the Sheriff’s Office report.

The officers returned to the school and talked with witnesses. Information on the gun was filed with the National Crime Information Center.

Detective Allen returned to the school at 8 a.m. Thursday and interviewed every student in Lance and Robinson’s fourth-period class.

He determined that when Lance realized the gun was gone, he became worried that it was still on campus and went to tell his shop teacher about the situation.

Allen then had Angela Lance take her son to the Rowan County Magistrate’s Office, where Noah Lance was charged with felony possession of a firearm on a school campus.

Lance was released to his mother’s custody with a written promise to appear in court.

After Lance was charged, Allen returned to Robinson’s home and interviewed him. Robinson admitted taking the handgun out of Lance’s backpack.

Robinson told Allen that he would give the weapon back to him at 6 p.m., and Allen agreed to return for it.

Shortly before 6 p.m., Robinson’s mother called Allen and said they were at a location off N.C. 801, where Robinson had thrown the handgun down a steep bank.

At least four deputies and a K-9 unit searched the area but were unable to find the handgun.

Allen then returned to Robinson’s residence and asked Robinson for his cellphone. Robinson’s father refused to give the phone to Allen and cut off communication between Robinson and Allen.

Allen obtained a search warrant for the Robinson residence. Robinson’s cellphone was seized, but the handgun was not located.

Robinson was charged with felony possession of a firearm on a school campus and felony larceny of a firearm. He was placed in the Rowan County Detention Center under a $1,000 secured bond.

The search for the stolen handgun is ongoing.  Anyone with information about the case should contact Detective Allen at 704-216-8715, or 1st Lt. Chad Moose at 704-216-8687.

Contact reporter Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.