School Climate & Safety

Killings in Schools Prompt Cries for Better Security

By Darcia Harris Bowman — February 11, 2004 1 min read
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Two students in different East Coast cities were killed in their schools last week, prompting demands from angry parents for tighter security.

In the Miami area, a 14-year-old honor- roll student was found dead in the restroom of a middle school at about 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 3. Police said the boy was slain by a fellow 8th grader, who allegedly stabbed his victim several times with a serrated knife.

No motive for the killing had emerged from police interviews with the suspect, who was charged with first-degree murder, as of Feb. 5, according to a spokesman for the Miami-Dade County police.

A spokeswoman for the 338,000-student Florida district said Jaime Rodrigo Gough was the first student slain inside a Miami-Dade school in recent memory, and that the school, the high-performing magnet Southwood Middle School, was generally safe.

The day of the killing, anxious parents who gathered outside Southwood and were interviewed by local television stations angrily questioned the safety of the school.

When students returned to school the day after the stabbing, they were greeted by grief counselors, an increased police presence, and a “buddy” system to ensure that no student entered a restroom or any other area of the building alone, said district spokeswoman Tere Estorino.

Shooting in Washington

Safety concerns also surfaced in the nation’s capital following a deadly shooting in a troubled District of Columbia high school on Feb. 2.

In that incident, 17-year-old high school football star James Richardson died after being shot in the chest outside the cafeteria in Ballou Senior High School. A second, unidentified 18-year-old student was injured when a bullet hit his leg.

The incident happened several weeks after counselors tried to have Mr. Richardson transferred because of his involvement in an ongoing dispute between two groups of students, according to a Feb. 3 article in TheWashington Post.

On Feb. 4, police arrested Thomas J. Boykin, 18, and charged the fellow Ballou student with murder. The school district did not return calls for comment.

Washington Mayor Anthony A. Williams called last week for the local police to take over security in the city’s high schools.

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