Safety concerns at Tacoma middle school continue after latest ‘Kia Boyz’ incident | #schoolsaftey

TACOMA, Wash. — An incident of teens driving recklessly in a Kia outside Hilltop Heritage Middle School in Tacoma forced students back inside.

This is the latest incident that KING 5 has been following for months. On Wednesday, a photojournalist captured cell phone video of the teens driving recklessly and flashing hand signs.

The Tacoma School District said staff brought students in from outdoors when the vehicle was spotted, but the school did not go on lockdown.

The district said incidents like these are happening throughout the community where self-proclaimed ‘Kia Boyz’ are driving stolen cars and threatening people with guns.

According to the Tacoma School District, Hilltop Heritage Middle School has gone into two lockdowns and seven modified lockdowns this school year because of erratic and dangerous driving.

“With these incidents happening, it really makes me worried for their safety, and for the safety of all the other children, you know, that are in those schools,” said Kashana Collins, who has a sixth grader at Hilltop Middle School.

Wednesday’s video was a glimpse at what staff, students, and parents have been dealing with all year.

“One time, our daughter called us from the auditorium just crying, very afraid,” said James Collins.

The Collins family is on edge after recent incidents and is in the process of trying to transfer their sixth grader to another middle school. Collins said their daughter can’t transfer until next semester.

“My child’s safety is being put on the balance because I can’t transfer her to a different school,” Collins said.

Tacoma police said multiple groups of teens and young adults, some as young as 13, are responsible. Police said they’re doing everything they can to stop them.

“We’re gathering as much information as we can and sometimes it takes a while to build, but we are gathering information,” said Tacoma Police Detective William Muse.

Tacoma police said officers respond to these incidents and notify the school district as soon as they get a 911 call so the schools can implement their safety protocol.

“They think it’s funny or they think it’s thrilling and they don’t realize that thrill can be deadly to members of our community and that’s what we need to have stopped,” said Muse.

“I’m grateful that the Tacoma Police Department has sent out officers to the school to watch the parking lots. We picked our child up one day and noticed TPD at the school,” Collins said.

Tacoma police said other schools have been targeted, including Stadium High School, where the Collins family has a tenth grader.

“Our son came home and told us that there was an incident where they were driving around the parking lot to have guns waved,” said James Collins.

The Collins family is talking with their three children, hoping another incident doesn’t happen.

“Talking to our children about what’s right and what’s wrong and how it makes you feel, how it makes you feel overcoming fear. We don’t know when or if there will be a next incident or not or what the outcome will be. So we try to be safe,” Collins said.

Tacoma police said it’s not just schools; the group of teens are targeting the entire community.

“These thefts of an individual’s vehicles affect people in more ways than just a thrill-seeking juvenile who wants to have fun. These acts are tearing apart people’s lives,” said Detective Muse.

The Tacoma School District said in a statement, “The district is doing our part to assist the Tacoma Police Department in addressing the issue. As well as identifying the measures we can take independently to mitigate disruption.”

Police ask anyone who knows anything about these incidents to come forward.

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