AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – The teen suspect remains at-large after a shooting Wednesday morning at Josey High School, injuring one student – an alarming escalation to the violent start of the school year.
Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree said two students got into an altercation that boiled over into a shooting inside the school at 1701 15th St.
The victim’s injuries weren’t life-threatening, and the suspect remained at-large, authorities said Wednesday afternoon during a news conference at the Richmond County Board of Education office.
- Classes won’t be held Thursday or Friday at Josey High School, Murphey Middle School or Marion E. Barnes Career Center. When classes resume Monday, counselors will be available to students.
Authorities said they’re thankful no one else was injured and that educators responded quickly to keep students safe.
“We’re just happy that we didn’t lose anyone today,” Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Bradshaw said.
Sheriff Richard Roundtree credited the training deputies have received, including an active-shooter drill a few weeks ago at an old school.
The victim suffered a gunshot wound to a finger and was stable and taken to a hospital, according to authorities. Roundtree says it’s unclear what led to the altercation.
Authorities were still looking for the shooter into the afternoon, although they said they’d identified him after reviewing video of the altercation.
MORE FROM NEWS 12:
Although Roundtree wouldn’t release the suspect’s name because he’s a juvenile, the sheriff urged anyone who knows his location to contact law enforcement.
“If he’s being harbored, it’s by a friend or a relative,” Roundtree said.
How the Josey High School shooting unfolded
Wednesday’s shooting was reported at 11:15 a.m., according to Roundtree.
The school was immediately put on lockdown, and deputies converged on the school and blocked 15th Street.
Deputies searched every classroom and escorted the students to the football field, where their parents could find them.
Roundtree commended educators for following procedures.
“When we got there, the scene was not chaotic at all,” Roundtree said. “Everyone had followed protocol.”
Out of an abundance of caution, nearby Murphey Middle School was secured along with Josey. Augusta University got an alert because of Josey’s proximity to the Health Sciences Campus. Around 1:45 p.m., an AU alert said there was no active threat to the university community.
In addition to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, personnel were on the scene from agencies including the the Georgia State Patrol, Richmond County Marshal’s Office, Augusta Fire Department and Central Emergency Medical Service. At least some of the law enforcement officers were in tactical gear.
Roundtree thanked all the agencies that responded.
“Anytime you have an incident of this kind, it’s all hands on deck,” Roundtree said.
“Each individual agency did a stellar job, and they are to be commended,” he said.
Deputies didn’t release a description of the suspect, but an alert sent to Augusta University said authorities were looking for “a juvenile, black male wearing a yellow jacket and black pants.”
How safe are Richmond County schools?
Asked at the news conference how many school resource officers were present, Bradshaw said the one officer who’s assigned to Josey was there.
When pressed about the status of metal detectors at Josey, Bradshaw said: “We don’t have metal detectors in our schools at this time.”
He said, however, the matter is up for discussion, and is a “topic that will be ongoing.”
He was asked about the search process for weapons.
He answered that the school district is depending on parents to be aware of what their kids are taking to school and to make sure those items aren’t weapons.
“We rely on parents and guardians to guide their children in keeping prohibited items out of our schools,” he said.
He urged parents to talk with their children about ways to resolve conflict without violence.
That may be tough.
“The schools are just an extension of our neighborhoods,” Roundtree said, “so what goes on in our neighborhoods continues in our schools.”
Mayor Garnett Johnson said the answer is to give youths something better to do than violence.
“I am saddened by the increased violence in our community,” he said.
As mayor, he doesn’t have jurisdiction over law enforcement or the courts, he said, but added that he can work to strengthen activities for youths.
“We need to create safe havens for our children, including expanding after-school and summer programming offered by our recreation centers,” he said. “We need an awareness campaign to inform parents about the options available to their children.”
He said he’s calling for volunteers who are willing to “roll up their sleeves and help,” whether by transporting kids to after-school programming, tutoring youth or mentoring.
Past problems at Josey High school and elsewhere
Josey is no stranger to violence.
A shooting injured two people last September at the school’s football homecoming festivities – one of two shootings in two days at Augusta high school football events.
Wednesday’s shooting came just a day after a large fight broke out at Butler High School during the transition to class after breakfast and resulted in several arrests.
High schools in Augusta just started the academic year last week. At some other districts in the region where school started earlier, there was violence in the first days, as well.
On Aug. 3, a midday brawl broke out at Aiken High School, leading to several arrests and at least one student injury.
That happened days after a series of similar fights at Burke County High School.
There have already been other incidents this school year at other Richmond County campuses. Among them:
- On Friday, a student saw a knife fall out of a student’s clothing at the Reaching Potential Through Manufacturing campus at 2920 Mike Padgett Highway. School district police were notified and the incident was being addressed by the code of student conduct and discipline.
- Also on Friday, a student threatened to cause harm to a teacher and class at Barton Chapel Elementary School. The incident will be addressed by district police and the code of conduct.
Copyright 2023 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.