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Cornelius News

Police arrest 21-year-old in Hough High drug case. How big is this problem?

July 12. By Dave Yochum. There’s been another fatal overdose involving a student at Hough High. The mother of Laird Ramirez says her 17-year-old son died of an accidental fentanyl overdose. He was a senior, a wrestler and by all accounts a good kid.

Laird was 17 | Photo provided by Hayden Garvey-Knapp

“He was a shining light, an extraordinary kid, he was smart and funny and wry and low-key funny and so kind. He was the kid that looked after his friends. He didn’t tolerate bullying,” said Laird’s mother, Gwyneth Brown.

She has a daughter who is an incoming freshman. Her concern is profound.

A tragic death

On Saturday afternoon, July 1, Cornelius Police responded to a medical call-for-service on a street just east of Birkdale Village in Cornelius. They found Laird, already dead, of an apparent overdose.

Police kept Brown from seeing her son because of the nature of a fentanyl death, she said. She was able to spend some time with him at Raymer-Kepner Funeral Home where services will be held this Saturday at 4 pm.


Laird’s death is related to the arrest of Tina Marie Alexander and Matthew Christian Dominguez. They operated out of a doublewide at 7620 Norman Island Drive for quite some time. Police conducted a weeks-long investigation due to multiple citizen complaints, as well as a rise in overdose cases involving several neighboring jurisdictions.

Brown said her son knew both Alexander and Dominguez.

Detectives seized 988 yellow and blue Fentanyl pills, 17 grams of Methamphetamine, and 2 grams of Psychedelic Mushrooms.

Alexander was charged with Felony Level III Trafficking in Opium, Felony Conspire in Trafficking in Opium, Felony Possession with Intent to Distribute (PWISD) Methamphetamine, Felony Possession of Methamphetamine, Felony Possession of Schedule I, Felony Maintaining a Dwelling for controlled Substance, Felony Possession of Synthetic Cannabinoid, and Misdemeanor Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.


Dominguez was charged with Felony Level I Trafficking in Opium, Felony Conspire in Trafficking in Opium, Felony Possession with Intent to Manufacture/Sell/Deliver Schedule II, and Misdemeanor Drug Paraphernalia.

Both were arrested on scene and transported to the Mecklenburg County Jail. Tina Marie Alexander was issued a $1,000,000 secured bond and Matthew Christian Dominguez was issued a $100,000 secured bond.

Hough High

Parents on a Hough High parents Facebook page are saying there are other dealers who target Hough students. There have been overdoses and hospitalizations, including one in May where the student did not die.


But last September Olivia Mooney, 14, died of an accidental overdose. She was also a Hough student.

Brown said Hough administrators are not doing enough to warn students and parents of the dangers of recreational drugs in a fentanyl age vs. recreational drugs in the 1980s and 1990s.

Raymer-Kepner Funeral Home is handling arrangements for Laird. His obituary will be updated. Services are set for Saturday.

Update 12:10 pm: Full CMS response

CMS responded via email:

Thank you for your inquiry. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools cannot comment on its students, or disciplinary action given to students, due to FERPA privacy issues. Below is a statement from the school’s principal about measures taken in school and additional information about the anti-drug education programs.

“At Hough, students participate in weekly SEL lessons and a cornerstone at Hough is our Sources of Strength program whose mission is to provide evidence-based prevention for suicide, violence, bullying and substance abuse by training, supporting and empowering both peer leaders and trusted adults.” -David Farley, M.Ed. Principal, William Amos Hough High School.

Anti-drug education in the high schools occurs as part of our NC Health Education standards. The standards focus on understanding the risks of alcohol and substance use, the role of familial, community and cultural norms related to substance misuse, the effects and consequences of use, and exploring risk reduction behaviors and strategies to avoid use. In addition to being taught as part of the health education standards, schools present antidrug education through different initiatives such as Red Ribbon week or parent workshops.

For the 2023-24 school year, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is planning to implement increased drug education related to vaping on all middle and high school campuses next year. There are no plans to implement prevention education differently at any specific high school. Substance misuse and addiction affects all communities and is a concern throughout Mecklenburg county, it is not isolated to one area of Charlotte.

To learn more about disciplinary action our students may face for infractions during their school career please refer to the Code of Student Conduct on the CMS website https://www.cmsk12.org/domain/36