VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The man accused of taking a hatchet into Salem High School early Thursday morning appeared in Virginia Beach court Friday.
Kirk Cowart, a 25-year-old, seemed confused during his arraignment hearing.
The Judged asked, “Are you going to hire an attorney or seek a court appointed attorney?” Cowart answered, “I think I’ve got one already.” The Judge shot back, “No, you don’t have one.” At that point, Cowart looked confused, and said, “What was your question?”
He was equally confusing in a jailhouse interview with WAVY.com Thursday night: “I was the only one who wasn’t suppose to be there. I wasn’t talking to ghosts. I wasn’t talking to myself, but you know what I was doing? I was practicing my own monologue,” he told WAVY’s Jason Marks.
10 On Your Side spoke with Cowart’s brother, who did not want to be seen or named, and he acknowledged his brother’s mental issues. He said he couldn’t explain what prompted his brother to go into the high school with a weapon around 6 a.m. Thursday.
“I couldn’t tell you. It’s bi-polar disorder, that is all,” he said.
During our interview with Cowart Thursday night, he also told us he was bi-polar. We asked Cowart why he brought the hatchet to school.
“Shouldn’t a boy always be able to walk around in Virginia with his tomahawk?” Cowart replied.
On WAVY’s Facebook page, a Salem High School parent commented on a text message she had with her daughter, who is a student at Salem High School:
The daughter text at 7:04 a.m.: “We were standing outside the building, then they let us in, and he’s still in there.”
The mother responded, “Are you still on the bus?”
The daughter responded, “The police are looking for him in the gym.”
WAVY.com asked Virginia Beach City Public Schools about students going into school while the situation was going on. In a statement, they claim the situation was over by 7 a.m.
With regard to Thursday’s incident at Salem High School, the trespasser gained access to the building more than an hour and a half prior to the start of the school day, through a back door being used for the delivery of cafeteria supplies. He falsely indicated to a staff member that he was supposed to be in the building at that time.
The School System Administration also praised the staff at Salem High School for recognizing the problem that was Kirk Cowart.
Fortunately, the staff member recognized this was reason for concern, and within minutes of his arrival, she had alerted school staff, police were called and the suspect was confined to one room where he remained until he was taken into custody by police.
Cowart faces three misdemeanors that include: disorderly conduct, trespassing on church or school property, and possession of a weapon on school property that is not a firearm. He will be back in court on Tuesday for attorney assignment and to determine whether he gets bond. His trial date is November 17.