A high school classmate of a High Point University student arrested Tuesday after police seized two guns from his dorm room said the man demonstrated some troubling behavior before he enrolled in college.
Also Wednesday, HPU President Nido Qubein put out a short video to reassure nervous students and parents after the student’s arrest made national headlines.
High Point freshman Paul Arnold Steber, 19, of Massachusetts remains in jail. He was arrested Tuesday after other students told campus security that he allegedly had weapons in his dorm room. Police allege that he later told them he planned to shoot himself and his roommate if he didn’t get into a fraternity.
Martin Lentz told TV station WBZ, the CBS affiliate in Boston, that Steber “was very pro-gun. He spent a lot of time (online) looking up weapons. I know a lot of kids were scared of him.”
Lentz on Wednesday also said Steber “was somewhat ostracized and bullied” when he first enrolled at The Newman School, a private school in a wealthy Boston neighborhood.
The Boston TV station said the school’s headmaster issued a statement Wednesday that read in part: “We are of course very sad to see these media reports from North Carolina, which come as a complete surprise to us.”
Also Wednesday, Qubein spoke to the HPU community in a four-and-a-half-minute video. He said the university had never experienced a situation like this one in his 15 years there. He didn’t mention Steber by name but called him “a young man making a really bad choice.”
Qubein said campus safety and security are important at HPU and praised employees for their quick and by-the-book response to a report of guns on campus.
HPU sent out an email Tuesday night to tell parents and students that a student had been arrested. Qubein said in the video that the university didn’t say more right away because the widely-reported allegations of mass violence and threats against the campus didn’t emerge until after Steber appeared before a magistrate Wednesday.
Despite news of Steber’s arrest, Qubein said life on the HPU campus was normal Wednesday.
“Our students are going to classes, are going about their business, are sitting around campus — it happens to be a beautiful day on campus,” Qubein said. “Life seems to be going with a faithful courage, with the strength and tenacity and grit of these students and all those who work on this campus.”
In court Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney Lori Wickline said Steber had been watching videos to learn how to carry out a mass shooting. Wickline also said the HPU student told police “he definitely had a plan, something that he had been thinking about since Christmas of last year.”
Wickline said Steber had bought the guns within the past week and planned to shoot himself and his roommate if Steber didn’t get into a fraternity and the roommate did. She said it wasn’t clear if he bought the guns legally.
She said Steber didn’t appear to have any criminal history.
Paul Steber’s father sat in the courtroom Wednesday during his son’s brief appearance via video link.
“This is any parent’s worst nightmare,” defense attorney John Bryson said in court. “He’s obviously very concerned about his son.”
Steber was charged with two felony counts of possessing weapons on educational property and one felony count of communicating a threat of mass violence on educational property. He’ll be held without bond in the Guilford County jail for up to 10 days and undergo a mental health evaluation.
Police seized two guns and ammunition from his room in the R.G. Wanek Center and University Center II, a 548-bed freshman dorm. Those firearms were a 9mm semiautomatic handgun and a 12-gauge short-barreled percussion shotgun.
HPU spokeswoman Pam Haynes said Wednesday that the university has banned Steber from campus. She declined to say whether Steber has been expelled, citing federal student privacy laws, but did say that “generally speaking, a student would be adjudicated and expelled from the university” in instances like this.
GREENSBORO — As the daughter of a military man, Schelena Stucky knows what it’s like to spend a childhood moving from town to town, saying goodbye to familiar friends and neighborhoods.
And it hurts.
So when she became pregnant, Stucky wanted to move from an apartment to a place she and her son could call their own for a lifetime.
“Something I want for my child is to have a home that he can grow up in. To have a home that he can constantly come back to,” Stucky, 31, said.
After seeing a Facebook ad and working with a real estate agent, she found her way into a local program that has helped more than 200 families this year get the knowledge, confidence and financial assistance they need to move from renting to buying their own house and the security that brings.
The city of Greensboro and a nonprofit agency have teamed up to guide people through the maze of buying their first house. Under the #100Homes project, the city’s Neighborhood Development Department and the nonprofit Housing Consultants Group set what they thought was an ambitious goal to put 100 families in homes by Dec. 31 through state and local assistance programs.
By midyear, the group had reached its goal. So in June, the program was renamed #200Homes. In a matter of months, by early August, it had helped 212 people buy homes. And the number keeps on rising.
The program can help low- and moderate-income families get down payment assistance from a city bond fund.
Stucky, who qualified for help from the city and state, was able to put down $18,000 on her house through down payment assistance that can be forgiven over a number of years.
Through the program, prospective homebuyers can receive:
To be eligible, your family income must be below $72,600 a year for a family of two or $84,700 a year for a family of three or more.
Sofia Crisp, the executive director and founder of Greensboro-based Housing Consultants, said she got the idea for the program last year when she was working with displaced victims of the April 2018 tornado that struck eastern Greensboro. Crisp, who is also a Realtor, saw that many people were paying rent on substandard housing. A mortgage payment, she realized, might be more affordable than rent if a person could raise the money for a down payment.
She knew about various assistance programs and thought her agency and the city could team up to promote the ways renters could become buyers.
“These people are paying so much money for rent,” Crisp said. “Who’s to say we couldn’t make 100 people out of hundreds of people homeowners.”
To get the word out, she worked with real estate professionals and mortgage companies to make sure they know how to guide first-time buyers to the programs.
Potential buyers can find out about the programs through a real estate broker or by calling Housing Consultants directly.
Why has the program been such a success?
“I think because interest rates are relatively low and 40 to 50% of the people who are getting assistance end up paying less on a mortgage than on rent. That’s the power of $10,000 down payment,” Crisp said.
Stucky worked with a Realtor who helped her qualify for the programs. Her first step was to take the class that taught her what she needed to know to buy a house.
Stucky had rented apartments in High Point since graduating from UNCG and had always felt she would be a renter. When she became pregnant, her priorities changed.
A special enforcement officer with the N.C. Department of Revenue, Stucky can work from home and was using the second bedroom in her apartment as an office. With a little boy on the way, she knew she would need a third bedroom and the extra stability that comes from living in a single-family home.
After taking the class, she began searching for affordable houses. There’s a lot of competition for homes costing less than $150,000, but she persisted and found a house for $129,000. The catch? The sellers received six offers in the first 32 hours it was on the market.
Because she had lined up her two down payment assistance loans and had her paperwork in order, Stucky was able to make an offer of $133,000 and the promise that she could close quickly on the house.
She closed on the $119,000 mortgage on a Thursday a month ago, and her baby was born the next day. Her parents moved her stuff from her apartment to the house that weekend, and Stucky was living in her new house within a week after staying with her parents for a few days.
Her payment? $753 a month — only $25 more than the rent on her two-bedroom apartment. The house has four bedrooms.
Stucky said she is thrilled about how it turned out.
“It was never actually my goal,” she said. “For it to be something I never thought about and to be something I could accomplish was fantastic.”
GREENSBORO — On his second visit to the city since spring, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke stopped by the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, which is dedicated to one of the pivotal moments in the country’s struggle for equality.
After Thursday’s private tour, O’Rourke spoke briefly to the media, reiterating his stance on stronger gun control, calling President Donald Trump “dangerous for America” and reassuring supporters he won’t drop out of the race despite declining poll numbers.
“I’m in this race until the end,” O’Rourke said.
Thursday’s appearance further cemented North Carolina’s reputation as a battleground state in the 2020 presidential election. In 2000 and 2004, George W. Bush won North Carolina by significant margins. Since then, the state has been up for grabs and both parties have taken notice.
Trump made 23 appearances in the state en route to taking the White House in 2016.
O’Rourke’s visit came on the heels of former Vice President Joe Biden attending a fundraiser in Charlotte on Wednesday and a few days after another Democratic presidential candidate — U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris — spoke at events in Durham and Greensboro last weekend.
Meanwhile, the number of candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination is dwindling and more appearances from the frontrunners will likely occur in the coming months.
On Thursday, the former Texas congressman called his visit to the museum “inspiring,” saying the lessons there are a much-needed salve for the country’s wounds.
The museum is in the footprint of the old Woolworth department store downtown, where four N.C. A&T freshmen sat down at the then-segregated lunch counter on Feb. 1, 1960. Little did they know then that their act of defiance would reignite the fight for civil rights. A section of the counter has long been a part of the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.
“He asked thoughtful questions and took notes,” museum CEO John Swaine said of O’Rourke while he thanked tour guides nearby.
Earlier, O’Rourke called the four A&T students who made history by name — Joseph McNeil, Jibreel Khazan (formerly Ezell Blair Jr.), the late David Richmond and the late Franklin McCain — and referenced their “heroism.”
“If we ever needed inspiration, it’s right now,” O’Rourke said.
He said the four students and those that joined them changed the country’s conscience.
“I wanted to better understand the leaders of the civil rights movement, the people who forced change after decades of what looked to be an intractable problem, “ O’Rourke said. “To learn and be inspired by this leadership is fundamental to our ability to meet these challenges we have today.”
O’Rourke said he’s spending more time talking about race “because it’s such a dominant feature of President Trump’s administration.”
“The way that he has described Muslims as a threat to this country,” O’Rourke explained. “The way that he asked four members of Congress — all women of color — to go back to their country or to elevate Klansmen by calling them ‘very fine people.’
“It’s also changing us.”
The Trump Victory organization disagreed with that assessment Thursday.
“North Carolina voters will see through Beto O’Rourke’s use of national tragedies to score political points,” Samantha Cotten, the group’s regional communications director, said in an email.
O’Rourke left the museum for A&T, where he was scheduled to meet with students.
After that, he was headed to Virginia and Pennsylvania.
The comeback: After some tough years, Grimsley’s football program is returning to respectability. Page C1
Two teenage exchange students who arrived in the Triad to find their plans to attend school here had fallen through will get to attend High Point Central High School after all.
The decision Thursday by Guilford County Schools to accept the students, who start classes today, ends an impasse of sorts between the district and the nonprofit organization sponsoring the students. The school year started Monday for most district students.
The dispute centered on the host family’s address, which is just barely over the county line in Davidson County, and outside High Point Central’s attendance zone. That’s a fact the school district didn’t catch before it approved the students to attend. The district had maintained the students must live in the attendance zone in order to attend the school, but relented on Thursday.
“We are going to welcome these students with open arms and fix our procedural error that caused this situation,” said Tony Watlington, the district’s chief of schools. He said he had offered an apology to the host family.
Dudine and Ronald Jean-Louis, who live in High Point, signed up to take two teenage boys, one from South Korea and one from China, for the 2019-20 school year.
NorthWest Student Exchange, a Seattle-based nonprofit, received signed forms from High Point Central in June approving the students to attend there, and follow-up confirmation in late July, according to the group’s executive director Jeff Laband. He said the forms contained the family’s address.
Then, earlier this month, with the students’ tickets already purchased, he said, the district called the host family to let them know their home is in the Davidson County School system. They said the students couldn’t attend High Point Central if they don’t live in the zone, he said. A small part of High Point is in Davidson County and zoned to attend Davidson County Schools.
Davidson County Schools, he said, told them they couldn’t take the students either because they were full. By the time Laband said he received an email on Aug. 20 confirming that the students had been denied to attend Guilford County Schools, they had already arrived in High Point.
Dudine Jean-Louis said on Wednesday the two teenage boys had been staying at home with her mother-in-law and college-age son. She said she encouraged them to read books and take walks, rather than playing video games or staying on their computers.
“That’s not the experience they signed up for,” she said before learning the district had reversed course. “It’s heartbreaking to keep saying, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t have an answer.’”
Laband, who was still trying to figure out a solution for the students, contacted the News & Record on Wednesday about the situation. On Thursday, after a call from the News & Record seeking information on the status of the case, school officials called Laband and Jean-Louis to let them know the students could attend school starting today .
Watlington said the district made the decision Thursday. He said it is now clear that with the first days of the semester ticking away, the exchange organization wasn’t able to secure another placement or school for the students to attend.
He said a staff member did not catch that the host family’s High Point address is not in Guilford County. The district is looking to review and adjust procedures to make sure addresses in that situation are flagged prior to any agreement being signed.
He stressed that Guilford County Schools enthusiastically welcomes exchange students.
“We’ve been doing this for years,” he said of hosting exchange students. “This is the first time I’ve seen an error like this; it was certainly not intentional or willful.”
Laband said he heard from both Watlington and Chief of Staff Nora Carr on Thursday and praised them for resolving the situation.
He said he believes the district now understands that no one was trying to improperly place a student in the district and that it was all just an honest mistake.
“They took the time to look at everything and go the extra mile,” he said. “Basically, from one educator to another, I very much appreciate that they took a look at the whole situation.”