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2 teens shot, students rush out of stadium during games | #schoolsaftey

CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — Parents say they’re still shaken after back-to-back gun incidents across a few metro Atlanta schools.

On Aug. 19, a 17-year-old was found shot in a parking lot across from North Cobb High School after a dispute. That teen is expected to be OK.

On the same night, a robbery turned into a shooting in the parking lot during a game at Tara Stadium. An 18-year-old was shot and is also expected to make it, according to the Clayton County Public Schools.

Luckily, chaos at a Discovery High School game on the same Friday turned out to be a false alarm, according to Gwinnett County Public Schools.

Ann Castro was at the Discovery vs. Central Gwinnett High game with her two daughters. She said she watched students flee the stadium. And fights broke out afterward.

“As soon as I was expecting the players to come back onto the field, I turn to my left and what felt like the entire stadium of people is screaming, crying, and rushing toward me like a stampede,” Castro said.

Castro said she is disabled and could not run with them. She said a kind man protected her.

“We were being violently pushed out by anyone that was considering themselves, I guess, authority,” Castro continued. “Large guns pulled out.”

The principal of Discovery High Marci Sledge released this statement:

“Dear Discovery High School Parents and Guardians, 

Clear and transparent communication is a core value at Discovery High School. It is a commitment to keep you informed with the latest and most accurate information concerning school matters. With that in mind, I wanted to update you about an unfortunate incident that happened at our school Friday. 

 Last night during the highly anticipated football game between our Titans and Central Gwinnett High, we made the difficult but correct decision to empty the stadium at halftime after a massive group of students caused panic by rushing toward the exit. This created a stampede of people trying to get through the gates and over the stadium fences. Fortunately, no one was injured during the rush, but several fights broke out after the crowds left the stadium.  

 To be clear, despite rumors on social media and what has been reported by some media outlets, there was NO GUNFIRE. School Police are investigating, interviewing spectators, and reviewing video of the incident to determine what happened. Whether the rush towards the exit was in anticipation of a fight or if it was an instance of a trend where students intentionally cause panic by rushing in a single direction in large groups, I want to reassure you if and when police identify who is responsible, they will face appropriate consequences. Students and spectators who engaged in fights will also face appropriate criminal and/or school disciplinary consequences.

 In anticipation of this game that drew a record-setting crowd, including a large number of students and adults who do not attend and are not associated with Discovery or Central Gwinnett High, we assigned 15 administrators to work the game as well as a large contingent of School Resource Officers. I want to thank them for the way they handled a chaotic situation. With that said, in accordance with our commitment to continuous quality improvement, we are already looking at ways to prevent something like this from happening again and dealing with it if it does.  

 As always, I appreciate your continuous support of our students and school.”

Cinda Brown’s son, Nehemiah Smith, plays for Jonesboro High School and was at the game where a teen was shot.

“There’s a high propensity for violence at this point, which tells me that there is some trauma.”

Brown said the students need conflict resolution and anger management courses.

“When trauma is unaddressed, then this is what we’re seeing.” Brown said, “They either talk about it, or they act it out.” 

Smith said he just wants to be able to have fun without worrying about things like this happening.

“It’s also important to get a nice intake on what they’re seeing and what they’re feeling,” Brown said.

Clayton County Public Schools considered an earlier start to Saturday’s games but ended up deciding against it. Here’s a statement:

“Clayton County Public Schools shares a statement regarding an incident that occurred last evening at one of the high school games. On Friday, August 18, 2023, around 10:26 pm, an eighteen-year-old black male student who has been identified as a senior at Dutchtown High School (Henry County) was shot while in the parking lot of the Jonesboro High School vs. Mt. Zion High School football game at Hines Ward Field at Tara Stadium. 

According to investigators, the shooting occurred as a result of an attempted robbery. The victim appeared to be alert/conscious with non-fatal injuries when our officers observed him. There was an identified witness who appeared to be with the shooting suspect. At this point, it does not appear that currently enrolled Clayton County students were involved in the situation. 

Clayton County Public Schools has as its number one priority the safety and security of its staff and students. Violence of any kind will not be tolerated. The district continues to take a firm posture against gun violence and is encouraging community stakeholders (e.g., legislators) to ensure proactive laws/policies are in place to protect our community against the growing violence in our communities and nation. 

The school district took heightened security measures last evening to ensure the safety of our staff and students. Some of these measures included extra security and vigilance from the Municipalities Police Staff, the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office, Clayton County Police Department, and the Clayton County Public Schools Police Staff. The School District will also continue using weapon-detection devices and only allow clear bags/purses at its games. 

These measures are developed to keep staff and students safe inside of the game. The district will continue to restructure to provide greater vigilance and safety precautions as it continues to confront the increase in violence among our youth in our nation. Moving forward, all games with fairly large crowds will now have adjusted start times, starting with the North Clayton High School versus Riverdale High School scheduled for today; this game will occur at 5:00 pm at Southern Crescent Stadium. If more details unfold regarding this matter, the community will be apprised according.”

Brown is hoping the district takes it a step further. She hopes parents get more involved.

“I think there should be a mandate on parents or requiring adults to accompany minors,” Brown said. “We’ve gotten away, I think, from parenting. We’ve disengaged from the school system.”

While Castro agrees there should be more parental involvement, she believes there’s very little that can be done to prevent this kind of violence.

“I don’t think it matters what time you’re going to do a kick-off and whether their parents are there are not, maybe some metal detectors,” Castro said. “I hope that there was a lesson learned. And I hope that there was some awareness.”

Brown said she plans to address officials at the Clayton County School Board meeting on Aug. 25.

RELATED: 18-year-old shot during Clayton County high school football game: School District

RELATED: 17-year-old shot near North Cobb Highschool: Police

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