Detroit Schools Step Up Security After Student Shootings

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Three apparently unrelated shootings in less than five hours in or near Detroit public schools early this month have touched off a flurry of security improvements and other plans in the district.

Responding to the Nov. 4 incidents, in which 10 students were injured, four of them seriously enough to be hospitalized, the district has increased its in-school weapons sweeps and surveillance around all schools, said Rosalyn Whitney, a spokeswoman for the superintendent.

Central district personnel and other administrative staff members will be involved in the stepped-up security measures, Ms. Whitney said.

She could not provide estimates of the cost to the district of the enhanced security measures.

The district is also studying whether to install electronic doors that would allow people to leave a school building, but not enter it, after school had begun, Ms. Whitney said.

Police patrols, including the presence of "tactical mobile units,'' have also increased, Ms. Whitney said. Detroit police confirmed that they had beefed up their patrols around schools, but would not say to what extent.

Also in response to the violence spree, Frank Hayden, the outgoing president of the board of education, planned last week to reconvene the "Save Our Students'' commission he chairs.

The group, which was formed in November 1991 to study ways to deter students from bringing weapons to school, had not met since the end of last school year.

Forums on nonviolence planned by the commission could be made mandatory for students, said Steve Wasko, a board spokesman.

Students in Custody

The spate of shootings began about 10:45 A.M. on Nov. 4 after three students apparently showed their identification cards to enter Finney High School on the city's East Side, Ms. Whitney said.

The trio then donned ski masks and began firing into a group in a hallway. Six students were injured by lightweight shot, possibly bird shot, and refused medical treatment, Lieut. Thurman Page, a police spokesman, said.

The following day, two 18-year-olds, Renard Merkerson and Montrice Coleman, were charged with five counts each of assault with intent to commit murder and one count each of felony firearms violations, Lieutenant Page said.

The third assailant had not been apprehended as of last week.

The violence continued at about 2:45 P.M. on Nov. 4 when a 17-year-old Mumford High School student was shot in front of the school on Detroit's west side.

The student, who was not identified, initially was listed in serious condition with a wound to the upper right chest, police said.

Last week, a 16-year-old male was arrested and charged with assault with intent to commit murder and remanded to the Wayne County Youth Home, Lieutenant Page said.

In the third incident, a 14-year-old boy and two girls, ages 13 and 14, were charged with assault with intent to commit murder and sent to the Wayne County Youth Home after a 3 P.M. drive-by shooting that injured three youths near Foch Middle School and Marcus Garvey Academy, an eastside elementary school.

A 14-year-old, a 15-year-old, and a 16-year-old were hospitalized with gunshot wounds.

At least one of the injured was a Foch student, police said, and another source, who did not want to be identified, said at least one was a Southeastern High School student.

All the incidents are being investigated by the police gang unit, which is standard procedure in such incidents, Lieutenant Page said.

Vol. 12, Issue 11

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