PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, Md. (DC News Now) — A 14-year-old student was arrested on Thursday for allegedly shooting another student during a fight outside Suitland High School just before 10 a.m. on Thursday.
The incident caused panic and anger among parents, many upset that violence erupted near their children.
The injured student, who is also 14, was in stable condition, according to Prince George’s County Police Chief Malik Aziz.
Aziz spoke at an afternoon news conference with Angela Alsobrooks, the county executive, in front of the school after meeting with concerned parents.
The school remained on lockdown following the shooting for hours until police and school officials determined there was no threat.
Parents like Renicia Benjamin, who has a daughter at the high school, were furious at the lack of communication with parents and the violence spilling over from the community and into the schools.
“It’s not safe. The first day of school they found two weapons on two kids,” Benjamin said. “And I don’t understand, they have money to build this new (building nearby) but they have no funds to install metal detectors for these children’s safety?”
The shooting near an annex building on campus near the bleachers at the football field, multiple parents said their children told them. And talk of another student being jumped and bullied made the rounds.
Aziz said the violence broke out during a transition period involving several students.
“A verbal altercation, exchange happened between the students which then turned physical,” he said. “During that physical altercation, someone produced a weapon and fired that weapon striking a 14-year-old student.”
Not long after, parents rushed to the scene, calling and texting their children to make sure they were safe. Some parents were irate that they couldn’t get their children out sooner.
“I just want to see her face, but I can’t even do that,” Benjamin said. “But they can’t call nobody, they can’t answer our calls.”
Alsobrooks said the violence that erupted “was totally preventable.”
“We have had direct contact with this community through our Hope collective starting this past summer,” she said. “We have been working with the youth of this community on a regular basis to do conflict resolution.”
The executive tried to reassure families that the community wouldn’t be overrun by violence.
“We share the parents’ concerns because in my mind, it is absolutely unthinkable as a parent that you would drop your kid at school during the day and believe that anything can happen to them,” Alsobrooks said. “They entrust their children to us. And we take that very seriously.”
Edward Jones, whose 14-year-old son Tyler was inside the school, said he was not surprised by the violence.
“This is not the first time. So this is something that is an unfortunate situation where we all know this is how society is,” he said. “So you pray for the kid, the child that was hurt.”
His son Tyler said he’s waiting for “what’s going to happen next?”
“When’s this going to happen? Oh, this happened again,” he said. “Oh, OK, it hasn’t even been two days. It’s just a consistency with this, the violence and the shooting.”
Police officials said the shooting is still under investigation.