CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe is defending the use of a school parking lot for an undercover drug buy that ended with two people shot, one of them fatally.
The incident happened at the parking lot of Hidden Valley Elementary School.
Monroe says an undercover officer and a confidential informant completed buying a quantity of marijuana from two suspects on Tuesday afternoon. As they turned away, Monroe said that one or both of the two suspects opened fire and the informant was hit in the shoulder.
At least two officers then opened fire and hit one of the suspects, identified as 17-year-old Jaquaz Walker, in the head. Walker was pronounced dead just before 10 p.m.
Karen Caldwell who lives near the school said she heard the commotion.
"Gunshots and 'get down on the ground. Don't move. Get on the ground now.'"
Hidden Valley Elementary was closed for the summer but NBC Charlotte has learned there were volunteers setting up for a camp that is set to open next week at the school. Earlier in the day there were children at the school too.
Said Chief Monroe, "This was the location identified by the individuals that we were seeking to purchase from. We were aware the school was empty of kids."
Monroe said officers had "scouted" the area before the operation started, adding there is no perfect location for this kind of operation.
"At no time did we believe that any of the personnel inside the school were in any danger," the chief said.
The Hidden Valley neighborhood had been plagued in recent years by gang activity, drug deals and shootings.
Some residents thought it was beginning to turn around.
Gary Dawkins is president of the Hidden Valley Community Association.
"It is a reality check. We have to do more work and get more involved in the community," Dawkins said.