10/10/07 — Man, 39, assaults 2 teens, principal

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Man, 39, assaults 2 teens, principal

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on October 10, 2007 1:46 PM

A Johnston County high school principal was slapped in the face by an intruder who also used his belt to assault two students Tuesday morning, authorities say.

Billy Ray Anderson, 39, of Bryant Pond Road, Dunn, faces charges including two counts of assault, assault on a school official and communicating threats, Johnston County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Tammy Amaon said.

Anderson had "some mental problems," Mrs. Amaon said, "Just knowing how he was acting here, they were not able to question him. He was talking out of his head."

The incident began around 9 a.m., the sheriff's department spokesperson said.

"(Anderson) walked into the school, went in the chorus room and took off his belt and struck two students on the leg with his belt," Mrs. Amaon said.

County school spokesperson Crystal Kimpson Roberts said one student was outside the classroom and was Anderson's first victim.

"He assaulted that student ... and then walked into the classroom, and then just as quickly as he assaulted that one student, he assaulted another," Mrs. Roberts said.

The spokeswoman said the teacher in charge of the room called for help immediately, and a security officer responded.

The school does have a School Resource Officer employed by the county Sheriff's Department, but he was in training for the day and was off campus, Mrs. Roberts said.

Soon after the call for help, school principal Barry Honeycutt entered the room to assist, Mrs. Amaon said.

"(Anderson) open-handed slapped him," Mrs. Amaon said. "Deputies were on the scene in four minutes, and he was detained."

Mrs. Roberts said Honeycutt had to restrain the suspect until the deputies arrived.

The school spokeswoman did not know which door Anderson used to enter the two-story school complex on U.S. 301 between Four Oaks and Benson.

The school spokeswoman said that school officials counted themselves lucky that no one was seriously injured and that the incident was over quickly.

"Thank goodness it was a very short-lived excitement," Mrs. Roberts said. "To walk in and exhibit that kind of behavior is not something they were anticipating. He walked in and within five minutes it was over."

Mrs. Amaon said Anderson was jailed on $10,000 secured bond after he was arrested on Tuesday morning.

Rumors about the incident, most of them untrue, were relayed to the sheriff's office much of the day Tuesday, Mrs. Amaon said.

"We were getting all kinds of calls," Mrs. Amaon said.

She confirmed that Anderson, who lives in the rural Meadow community south of Benson, did not have children at the school.