Crime & Courts

Charges dismissed against principal accused of pepper spraying Confederate re-enactors

The Sons of Confederate Veterans marched in the 2017 Soldiers Reunion parade in Newton in August. Prosecutors dismissed charges against a retired Catawba County principal accused of pepper spraying Confederate veteran reenactors during the parade.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans marched in the 2017 Soldiers Reunion parade in Newton in August. Prosecutors dismissed charges against a retired Catawba County principal accused of pepper spraying Confederate veteran reenactors during the parade. WBTV

Prosecutors have dismissed all charges against a retired Catawba County principal accused of pepper spraying Confederate veteran re-enactors during the 2017 Soldiers Reunion parade in Newton in August, court records show.

Karl Philip Smith, 56, of Morganton, was scheduled for trial this week on two counts of misdemeanor assault and one count of “failure to disclose to any law enforcement officer that the person holds a valid permit and is carrying a concealed handgun when approached or addressed by the officer.”

The Catawba County District Attorney’s Office dismissed the charges on Oct. 6, according to court records. “Special conditions exist,” the records say, without elaborating. A spokesman for the district attorney’s office declined on Friday to discuss the case, saying the reason for the dismissal could be found on the dismissal form in the Catawba County Courthouse in Newton.

Newton Police Maj. Tim Hayes, whose department charged Smith, referred questions to the district attorney’s office. “We have no further comment on this case at this time,” Hayes said.

Two victims were treated at the scene for pepper spray exposure and then released, Newton police said at the time without identifying the victims.

Two parade participants notified police that a man armed with pepper spray was following the re-enactors, according to a police. Witnesses told police that when the re-enactors stopped to fire their weapons, the man discharged pepper spray at them.

Witnesses pointed out the man to police, who immediately took him into custody without incident.

Police seized a small canister of pepper spray and a Smith & Wesson .38-caliber revolver from Smith. He had a concealed weapons permit for the gun, police said.

Smith has not responded to several phone messages left at his home by the Observer since the incident. He was a principal at two schools – first at East Burke High School and most recently at W.A. Young Elementary School – before he retired on June 30, schools spokeswoman Cheryl Shuffler said.

He was reassigned to the bus garage after he retired as a principal and retired from the school system on Aug. 31, Shuffler said.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak

  Comments