North LaFayette Elementary School

A North LaFayette Elementary School teacher on Thursday said she saw what appeared to be a big cat at the school.

It’s the second sighting at the school in as many days. The principal, on the previous day, reported seeing what appeared to be a mountain lion in the school’s student dropoff/pickup lane.

According to LaFayette Police Department reports, on Thursday, Aug. 4, teacher Norma Jean Payne said a student reported that a large cat was on school grounds outside her classroom window. Payne looked outside and saw what appeared to be a large cat walking south on the school property toward East Indiana Street.

She said the animal was light brown, with a long tail and about two feet tall.

Payne said she walked away to get her camera, but by the time she returned, the animal had disappeared.

An officer checked the area but was unable to locate it.

This was one day after the principal of the school said she spotted one in the car lane of the school.

According to police reports, on Wednesday, Aug. 3, between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m., North LaFayette Elementary School principal Sandra Morrison reported seeing a wild animal she believed to be a mountain lion walking in front of the school, in the vehicle lane where students are dropped off and picked up.

Morrison told police the animal was yellowish-tan and bigger than a house cat, but smaller than a German shepherd, and described animal’s tail as being as long as her forearm.

Josh Aldridge, a wildlife technician with the Department of Natural Resources, met with Morrison early Thursday morning, Aug. 4, at the school.

Aldridge said he believes Morrison did in fact see something, but isn’t convinced it was a mountain lion based on the description she gave.

There was no surveillance footage available, as the cameras at the school were not fixed on the car lane where Morrison spotted the animal.

Josh O'Bryant is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He can be reached at the Walker County Messenger office at 706-638-1859 and by email at