A principal from a school in Kanawha County outside of Charlotte, N.C., has reportedly been found dead from an apparent suicide. He had taken several days off for personal reasons while an investigation involving a gun at his school was being conducted by authorities.

School officials confirmed on Tuesday that Dr. Barry Bowe, 54, principal of the Northwest School of the Art, had died. Deputy Chief Michael Kee confirmed that Bowe had committed suicide using carbon monoxide.Principal Bowe had requested Friday off and was supposed to return to school on Monday morning.

A school employee went to his house to check up on him and called the police after he did not answer the door.

The news that Bowe had committed suicide shocked students and parents across Kanawha County. Many had rallied behind the principal who was reportedly being forced out of his job, when a student brought a gun to a school dance on Dec. 17, 2011, and pointed the weapon at a classmate after the function. As principal, Barry Bowe became the flashpoint of allegations that security was insufficient at the school. Officials began investigating the incident. Rumors began circulating in the community that he might lose his job.

I can tell you unequivocally no final determination has been made, Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh said, according to the Charlotte Observer. He referred to Bowe's death as very unfortunate, very tragic.

Even though a cloud had fallen over Principal Bowe over the gun incident, students, colleagues and friends from left online comments of regret and support online, including at the online site, Legacy.

Mr. Bowe was my chorus instructor at DuPont High in 1985, wrote Emily Cochran on the site. He was a very kind, soft spoken, good person. He will be a great loss for this world. He is directing a wonderful chorus in heaven now.

A memorial Facebook page has been set up in in Bowe's honor for individuals to leave their respects.

Respect him to the upmost, said one individual identified on Facebook as Gary Norman. Other Facebook posts reveal that he was always smiling.

Principal Bowe spent 22 years in the Kanawha County school system, beginning his educational career as a teacher at East Bank High School. He spent a little over 13 years a teacher and served as vice principal at Flinn Elementary and later became principal at Belle, Chandler and Weberwood elementaries, reported the Daily Mail. He won Principal of the Year for his work at Chandler Elementary. He became principal at Northwest School of the Arts in 2008.

Dr. Bowe's death will be a profound loss, particularly to the children whom he took under his wing, said Ginny Brien, president of the Friends of Northwest School of the Arts, according to the Charlotte Observer. I can hear his voice ringing in my ears--'I love my kids.'