Davin Eldridge – Contributing Writer
An Otto man has been arrested on at least a dozen charges after breaking into an area school, according to authorities.
It was around 8:30 a.m., Thursday morning, May 31, when 46-year-old Sean Christopher Hackett reportedly walked onto the premises of Union Academy. He was shouting something about children and, “It’s time,” before then attempting to break into the patrol car of School Resource Officer Greg Rogers.
“On the cameras, the receptionist and I saw a gentleman in the parking lot,” said school’s Principal Diane Cotton. “Mrs. Deal had left something in her car, so she was just going to ask him if he needed help. When Mrs. Deal said ‘may I help you,’ he charged at her, so she came through the entrance and tried to lock the door behind her, but it did not latch… He came in right behind her.”
It was at that point Cotton heard a commotion, and went to investigate. Deal attempted to close the door behind her, but Hackett pulled it open and entered anyway.
“I heard screaming coming from the front office area,” Rogers wrote in his incident report on Friday. “Then the secretary came screaming that an unknown male had gotten into the school and was chasing the assistant principal.”
Rogers then encountered Hackett in the hallway and repeatedly ordered him to the ground at gun point, according to the report.
“He would not comply,” said Rogers in his report. “Once I was in contact with him, I realized he wasn’t armed, but was apparently 10-37 [mental subject], same was screaming and out of control. I switched from handgun to Taser and he started down the hall after a teacher, and after several warnings of [a] Taser deployment, and refusal to comply, I deployed the Taser multiple times. This altercation went back into the parking lot and [an assisting officer] arrived and we were able to take the suspect to the ground and got him into custody.”
Hackett was arrested for disorderly conduct, breaking and entering to terrorize or injure, assault on a government official and assault on a female, among other charges.
The sheriff lauded Rogers’s efforts and restraint, and said the incident will be studied for future school safety concerns.
“Our county is very supportive of having safe schools,” said assistant principal Devon Deal. “SROs are paramount in that safety. Every school needs an SRO. Up until this year we shared one. They are trained and go to special training. We do training and drills for safety. We are very proactive. It needs to remain proactive instead of reactive. That’s key to staying safe—to be very vigilant, so students know they’re safe.”
Asked whether the incident, in light of recent national developments at other schools, influenced her position on school safety procedures, Deal asserted having confidence in local leadership.
“[SROs] are a key component to school safety. I totally agree with the proactive steps that the county and Macon County Sheriff’s Office have taken. We were prepared and ready, and just immediately kicked into what we had to do.”
This incident comes on the heels of a recent state decision to provide more special training for SROs.
NC Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission voted on May 18 to require all SROs to complete training with the NC Justice Academy. The decision was made after Attorney General Josh Stein requested the commission to consider mandatory such training, in light of recent school shootings.
“SROs do important, challenging work,” said Stein in a statement to the commission. “They keep our kids safe at school, while also helping young people learn life lessons and stay out of trouble. A thorough, complicated job like that demands specific, in-depth training,” he said.
Macon County is one of just four districts among North Carolina’s 115 to have a resource officer in every school.