CHAPEL HILL – A woman was shot and killed Friday afternoon outside Mary Scroggs Elementary School.
It happened in the Southern Village community in Chapel Hill. The school was on lockdown for about 45 minutes, but no students or school staff were injured in the shooting.
Police have a suspect in custody – Ali Cherfaoui of Carrboro. Investigators said they believe Cherfaoui shot and killed Chahnaz Kebaier as part of an ongoing domestic dispute.
The shooting happened while school was in session – a fact that caused concern for parents.
“When I came up and saw the police cars, obviously I was concerned,” said William Ryan.
Emily Martine was in the school's lobby, about half-an-hour before school let out.
“I was actually in the lobby when it happened,” said Martine. “I heard three or four loud bangs a few minutes after two and it really did not register it was gunshots. I thought maybe a kid was banging a metal bench or something and then a woman ran in the lobby and yelled 'Help, help, my friend's been shot!'”
Witnesses said the principal and the school nurse immediately came out of the school to help the woman, possibly putting their lives in danger, not knowing if the gunman was still around.
The school immediately went into lockdown, but students say they didn't really know what was happening.
“A couple of people in my class told us they had seen two ambulances, so we knew something severe had happened. but we didn't know what had happened. All we knew was someone had gotten hurt,” said Cal Martine, a second grader at Mary Scroggs.
“At gym time, we had this lockdown thing, and in gym we had to sit down in the office and we didn't get to play at all,” said Jack Ryan, a first grader.
Kebaier was taken to UNC Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Chapel Hill Police captured Cherfaoui nearby. Then, the lockdown at the school was lifted, and parents rushed to get their children.
“I don't think he knows, but I do know and I'm very glad to have my son. He's a blessing,” said William Ryan.
“My daughter was asking me, I don't know why anyone would do that,” said Martine. “That's really weird. that's really unusual. So we'll have to do some more talking about that.”
But in true kid nature, they turned the crime scene tape to child's play, ready for a long holiday weekend.