CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- When a man showed up at a Charlotte elementary school with a large hunting knife, one grandfather leaped into action.
St. Clair Staley arrived at Bruns Academy around 7:45 Wednesday morning to drop off his 6-year-old granddaughter. That's when he saw 31-year-old Pascal James Moore coming out of the woods.
"I was getting ready to turn around and I saw a guy coming out of the woods over there and he had a knife on his chest," Staley said, pointing to a wooded path just behind the school.
Staley says he turned his car around to follow Moore, who ran up beside him and looked him in the eye before slashing a tire on Staley's car.
"He just looked like he was out of it, he looked like he was on something," the grandfather says.
Staley says the knife Moore was wielding had an 8-10 inch blade. With the handle, it was closer to 16 inches.
Staley immediately reached into his car to try to grab his "whipping stick," a long, thick, wooden stick.
"I'm thinking, 'I'm fixing to kill this sucker,'" Staley explained. "This is my whipping stick I was fixing to put this on his head."
Staley's 3-year-old granddaughter was also in the car with him. He opted to call 911 instead.
The school immediately went on lockdown. Principal Mary Weston says they were able to track the suspect's movements with the surveillance cameras they have all over campus. Weston says he approached the modular and the mobile unit but was unable to breach either one.
"Everyone knew exactly what to do," Weston says of her staff. "There's no drill that prepares you for this though. You've got to know what to do and when to do it and how to execute it."
Children who were already in the school were held in the gym. Others who arrived in buses or cars were asked to wait in the vehicles until the lockdown was lifted.
Staley applauds the fast response of CMPD officers, who arrived within minutes and quickly tracked down Moore.
Moore was taken into custody. Officers later recovered a large hunting knife hidden on school grounds.
Staley left a short while later to take his other granddaughter to day care.
"I'm feeling woozy, nervous, but, I'm feeling safe. I'm feeling safe," he said. "The only thing I want to do is just watch out for mine — my granddaughters — I got kids in school. I refuse to let a crazy person hurt my kids. It's as simple as that."
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