Man found inside Salem High School with hatchet: ‘It seemed like a good idea at the time’

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Virginia Beach, Va. - A man facing several charges after allegedly trespassing at Salem High School with a hatchet gave a rambling interview from jail in which he made several disturbing statements.

25-year-old Kirk Beckwith Cowart is charged with Trespassing on School Property, Possession of a Weapon on School Property and Disorderly Conduct.

Virginia Beach Public Schools Security notified police that Cowart entered the building just as the cafeteria staff was receiving a supply order at approximately 5:45 a.m.

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When Virginia Beach Police officers arrived, they found him sitting on the auditorium stage.

Cowart was taken into custody without incident. He was a former Salem High School student, police say.

Cowart's father said his son suffers from mental illness and lives in his own imaginary world.

NewsChannel 3's Marissa Jasek spoke to Cowart and got his side of the story. Jasek called it the most bizarre interview she's ever done.

“When I walked out, there is a dirty little secret, and it’s a dirty little name and it’s a dirty little trick, that goes ’round here, that I, myself, come to you in bondage. What did you think the Commonwealth of Virginia’s main stock and trade was? Tobacky? That comes from North Cackalacky. But from VIRGIN-ia. We breed virgins to be bought and sold,” he said.

Cowart talked about weapons, old girlfriends and the 14 months he spent at Camp Lejeune in the Marine Corps, then continued to ramble.

“I wanted to do something for all the children that have ever been sold into sex slavery and get out on a stage with a mother-f***ing ax and a f***ing toothpick of a f***ing knife, my katana, and just lay everything down,”

“Did you go there with any intention to hurt people?," asked Jasek.

"I actually left my house and I was waiting and I was talking to the Lord and I heard a gun battle and I heard screams and people dying, but I didn`t hear the sickening sounds because I knew there were the bad ones who died," he responded.

Cowart is being held in the Virginia Beach Correctional Center without bond.

Daniel Keever, principal of Salem High School, issued the following message to the public:

"I need to make you aware of an incident that occurred on our campus early this morning. At approximately 5:45 a.m., a young male, who is not a student, entered the building as the Cafeteria Staff was receiving a supply order. Safe Schools and Police were immediately notified and the person was taken into custody a short time after without incident. As there was significant police presence involved this morning, I wanted you to assure you that your student is safe and we are working under normal operating conditions. Police are now investigating this incident."


  • Samuel Thomas

    Way to go, Channel 3. Display to everyone what mental illness looks like for the benefit of ratings. This is disgusting…but what else can one expect from the media these days.

    • christin mccurry

      I agree with you. I went to school with this boy. There wawas always something off. And for his deadbeat father to make a statement? From what I’ve heard from his brother, his father passed this gene to them and is just as mentally ill. Anyone who knew him in school knew he was a nice kids, but hahad mental illness issues. You can clearly tell. Come on, if he was a killer, he would have killed, not just sitting and waiting in the autitorium. I pray for the cowart family. He has sibking, a twin brother, amamazing older brother and mother. They need all the help they can get at this time. Sadly, they do not realize (news ) how much this hurts a family as well. Emotionally and socially because their son, or brother has a mental illness.

  • Maria Donoso

    The man obviously has serious mental issues and the fact that you displayed him on TV truly saddens me that that’s what this world has become. He is sick and displaying his symptoms almost feels like a violation of his and his families privacy your interview was hard to watch it was almost like you were mocking him. I am disappointed with your news channel. You could’ve use the valuable airtime wasted on that interview to talk about the lack of proper mental health care in this country and our military.

  • Demetrias

    I’m disappointed that News Channel 3 aired this interview. Clearly, this man suffers from mental illness. It’s not fair to him or his family. This is disturbing and a play to get ratings. We expect better from our respected news channel.

  • Ann M

    Marisa most of us would have taken your word that he has severe mental issues especially carrying a weapon. Perhaps a transcript of the conversation would have been best. If anything more you could have asked him some important questions like his intent. Was he looking for anyone specific at this school or why he thinks anyone at this school has anything to do with hurting children. Maybe he was abused there and it festered in him during his service in the Marines possibly setting him off. You could have asked him why he said those things to you. You say his father had something to say about his son having mental issues for a while. You should have asked “How long is ‘a while’, months, years, before or after his service abroad in the military”. That video wasn’t typical dirty laundry journalism for “NewsChannel 3”, it was more like TMZ material where you put the stained underwear under a microscope and show it to the world. I hope his father gets community help instead of shameful looks.

  • Melissa Sutphin

    Good grief people! This IS a news station and they DO report the news! Regardless if this guy is bat shit crazy, just acting like he is or whatever, what he did is completely inexcusable and the public deserves to know what happened. When you step out of line like he did and poses a threat to innocent children, guess what? HE DESERVES TO LOSE HIS RIGHT TO PRIVACY. Don’t be stupid and you won’t be sold out to the public – plain and simple.

    • lori

      Where did you read it took an hour? My child goes to this school and I’m VERY glad they got him when they did AND told the story. Why wasn’t the father aware of where his son was or had him committed somewhere?? Thank GOD no one was hurt because each one of you would be telling a different story on here.

  • Dinkk Winkkerson

    Bravo ! What a great display of journalism. Maybe you’ll get an award. I’m trying to figure out who is the most mentally off here. The guy in jail or the sick media outlet that displays this garbage? What’s next we go to Central State and interview a few of the patients there ? We can have a long running series where you interview a new mental patient each week eventually working your way up to the person who allows this bunk to be aired.

  • Jeannette

    The “jailhouse interview” was absolutely disgraceful. Kirk is obviously mentally ill, yet the reporter continued asking him questions and saying she didn’t understand his responses. Yes, what he did was quite disturbing and scary, to say the least, and that needs to be addressed – not only by the school and the lack of security displayed, but also with Kirk and his serious mental health issues. However, I did not see a single redeeming feature/quality in the entire interview. This was reporting at its absolute worst. Kicking someone when they are down for the entire world to see………Disgusting.

  • MDRice

    I seriously hope they get this man some help. He is obviously delusional and having hallucinations, most probably schizophrenic, and in serious need of medication. People this ill do not benefit from incarceration alone, in fact, it can make them much worse. Please get him a psych eval and some antipsychotics before he hurts himself or others, in jail or not he is still very dangerous without some help.

  • Eric Martin

    Enough is enough! It’s time we come together as a nation and enact some common sense hatchet-control legislation! If we can’t ban hatchets entirely, we should at least pass laws regulating the length of hatchets, blade size, and sharpness. How many more of these incidents do we have to witness before taking action?

  • Zachariah

    Just one of many. The battle will begin soon. Do not all of you listen to the screams of the innocent cries? I myself don’t know of the money gambits of Virginia but i will say, this man is in no way crazy. There are spiritual signs that he gives consistently, his motive for going to a school with an axe are surely absurd but the main thing is he is led by a spiritual force. The great Satan may be to blame for this unusual mix up. The words you hear are in fact correct though. We are few, that hear the voices of the lost and forgotten but we stand firm and wait for the final day to come. Heed my warning, the end soon approaches.

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