Hilltop Heritage Middle School went into modified lockdown twice on Friday in response to the ‘Kia Boyz’ stealing cars, brandishing a gun.
TACOMA, Wash. — Students from Hilltop Heritage Middle School in Tacoma are speaking out after their school went into modified lockdown twice on Friday. The lockdowns were caused by a group called the “Kia Boyz,” who the Tacoma Police Department (TPD) said are stealing cars and threatening people with guns.
Police said Friday morning the group of kids and young adults were driving recklessly in a stolen car, almost hitting people on sidewalks. The group made their way to Hilltop Heritage Middle School.
“Everybody was like crowding to the windows, which I don’t think is the best thing to do, because if they do shoot you, you’re dead. They’re going to break the glass,” said Akeelah Simmons, a seventh grade student at Hilltop.
Akeelah’s younger sister and cousin, who are in the fifth grade, were at Hilltop that morning for a band class at the school.
“I found one of Akeelah’s friends and I said, ‘What’s going on?’ She said, ‘The Kia Boyz are here.’ And I said, ‘Okay, well, what am I supposed to do?’ She said, ‘You can come up with me,’” said Angelle Devone, a fifth grade student who went to hide in a classroom.
Tacoma police said when the group was asked to leave the school property by a Tacoma Public Schools patrol officer, they pointed a gun at the patrol officer multiple times and threatened to shoot them.
Kids at the school, like Akeelah and fellow seventh grader Georgiana Campbell, said it not only disrupts learning, but that they fear for their lives.
“We are scared to go to school because we don’t want to get shot, like we don’t want it to escalate any further,” said Georgiana.
Akeelah said she has experienced around a total of nine modified and normal lockdowns at her school this year due to the Kia Boyz.
“If the Kia Boyz didn’t come today, they’re probably going to come tomorrow because it’s like, we think it’s normal now,” said Akeelah.
These students said they feel more needs to be done to protect them.
“I just want more security, more police officers here,” said Akeelah.
Tacoma police said they are investigating a few of the people associated with the Kia Boyz and had this message for kids and parents who are concerned:
“We are going to do everything that we can working with the local public schools, working with other elements of the criminal justice system to do what we can to hold individuals accountable for crimes that they commit,” said Detective and Public Information Officer William Muse.
The people involved in these incidents at the school are not yet in custody.
Tacoma Public Schools works in partnership with Tacoma Police Department, said Kathryn McCarthy of Tacoma Public Schools.
“We are working with our schools and partners to do all we can to mitigate disruption to instructional time,” she said.
When a situation warrants school staff to call police, officers respond and investigate crimes, McCarthy said, adding that the incidents of erratic driving are not isolated to Hilltop Heritage and are happening throughout the county.
For now, these girls are calling on city leaders to do something to make them feel more safe at school.
“We feel like people in higher positions aren’t doing enough about it and are putting our lives at risk,” said Georgiana.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers, where they can stay anonymous, or call the South Sound 911 non-emergency line at 253-287-4455.