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High School Shooting in Maryland

Two Students Critically Injured, Gunman Dead, During a High School Shooting in Maryland

Less than a week since the National School Walkout, yet another group of student lives are affected by a school shooting. Two survivors of the shooting are in critical condition, and the gunman is dead. The Washington Post Reports:

A student opened fire at Great Mills High School in Southern Maryland Tuesday morning, critically injuring a female student before he was confronted by a school resource officer, according to the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office.

The officer and gunman both fired nearly simultaneously in a school hallway, authorities said. They said the gunman, identified as 17-year-old Austin Wyatt Rollins, was mortally wounded, but it was not clear whether he was shot by the officer or hit by his own round at the school 70 miles south of Washington, D.C. A third student was shot in the incident but it not immediately clear by whom.

Sheriff Timothy K. Cameron said at an afternoon press conference the shooter and two students, ages 16 and 14, were rushed to the hospital. The school resource officer, St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Deputy Blaine Gaskill, was not injured, the sheriff said.

Rollins was pronounced dead at 10:41 a.m. Cameron said.

A prior relationship existed between Rollins and the female student shot and authorities are exploring whether it played a role in the shooting.

 

Isaiah Quarles, a 10th-grader, was walking to his first period class Tuesday morning. He didn’t hear a gunshot but saw a girl falling to the ground. He thought she had fainted but then there were screams and shouts and someone yelled about a gun.

“Everyone started running and I started running, too,” Quarles said. “I was scared.”

The 16-year-old ran to his class. His teacher remained calm, he said, and soon there was an announcement on the public address system. “Our principal said there was a lockdown but no one was going to be harmed,” Quarles said.

Tyriq Wheeler, 17, was headed to his English class when he heard a loud bang. He hustled to class after he heard someone was shot.

A lockdown was announced once he made it to class. The class lowered the blinds and locked the door. Students pulled out their phones, contacting their parents and checking the news.

Wheeler remembered thinking, “Is this really happening?”

Last week, Wheeler walked out with other Great Mills students to protest gun violence because “kids shouldn’t be taken from the world so early.”

On Tuesday, as he was picked up from a nearby high school, he said, “I’m grateful I’m still alive. I’m grateful that I can see my mother and sister and, to be honest, I just want to get home.”

 

Ronda Neville who lives in Sebastian, Fla., has a niece who is in the 11th grade at Great Mills, and said in a phone interview that she was waiting to hear from her niece who is in the 11th grade at Great Mills. She hasn’t heard from her or the girl’s father, who is her brother-in-law.

“I’m sick over this,” she said. Her two sons graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where a former student of the school last month shot and killed 14 classmates and three staff members.

Neville said one of her sons texted her just after 9 a.m. after he heard about the Maryland school shooting. He had gone to Great Mills at one point, she said.

He wrote, “Oh my god. There’s a shooting [at Great Mills],” Neville said she sent a text message to her brother-in-law, the teen’s father.

Just before 10 a.m., Neville said she got a text from the girl’s father saying her niece had stayed home from school. He didn’t say why, but said she was safe.

Neville, who said she attended funerals for friends, a coach and teachers who were killed in Parkland, was “still sick to my stomach.”

Read the full article here.

The entire staff at The Fierberg National Law Group and School Violence Law extend sincere sympathy to the students and families affected by this tragedy. Our lawyers negotiated the historic settlements for the wrongful deaths and injured survivors of the Virginia Tech Massacre, which valued in excess of $11 Million.  The settlements established a foundation in their honor that continues to advocate for safe schools and gun control, which we continue to represent.

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Pearl Jam Dedicates Debut Song to School Shooting Survivors

Pearl Jam Dedicates ‘Can’t Deny Me’ to Survivors of the School Shooting in Parkland, Florida and Students Participating in the National School Walkout

On the eve of the National School Walkout, Pearl Jam chose to dedicate their debut song to survivors of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and students participating in the walkout the following day. Rolling Stone reports :

Performing at MoviStar Arena on Tuesday, Eddie Vedder addressed the crowd in Spanish. “This is dedicated to the incredible students in Florida, and the United States, who survived a terrible tragedy. We will all be protesting tomorrow throughout the United States,” Vedder said before honoring one of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s most vocal students. “We support you all, and Emma Gonzalez, we love you. We’d like to play this for them, and us.”

On Wednesday, students across America exited their respective schools at 10 a.m. local time for 17 minutes to show solidarity with the 17 victims of the Stoneman Douglas shooting as well as protest the government’s inaction to curb gun violence and prevent future school shootings.

Listen to the performance, and access the full article here.

The Fierberg National Law Group and School Violence Law applaud Pearl Jam for supporting survivors of school shootings and students participating in the National School Walkout. Our lawyers negotiated the historic settlements for the wrongful deaths and injured survivors of the Virginia Tech Massacre, which valued in excess of $11 Million.  The settlements established a foundation in their honor that continues to advocate for safe schools and gun control, which we continue to represent.

Parents of Andrew Coffey Push for New Hazing Law

Andrew Coffey’s Parents Push for New Hazing Law after Death of FSU Pledge

The dangers of hazing and excessive drinking are becoming increasingly more apparent. The parents of Andrew Coffey, who lost their son due to alcohol poisoning after a fraternity party, are pushing to make hazing a federal crime. CBS reports:

In a story you’ll see only on “CBS This Morning,” we hear from the parents of Florida State University student Andrew Coffey, who police say died from alcohol poisoning after a fraternity party. Parents Tom and Sandra Coffey are pushing for a new law against hazing.

“If this can go to Washington, D.C., it could be the Andrew Coffey Law. Is that something you’d like to see?” CBS News correspondent Tony Dokoupil asked them.

“Yes. Yes,” Tom said

“Yeah. Yeah, can’t be for nothing. I mean, I don’t—” Sandra said.

“Yeah, he can’t have died for nothing,” Tom said.

“No,” Sandra said.

“There has to be purpose,” Tom added. “And if people in the past had gotten together, maybe my son would still be here. … It just can’t go on. It can’t go on anymore.”

The Coffeys tell us how they’re trying to save lives by making hazing a federal crime.

Watch Tuesday, March 13, 2018, on “CBS This Morning,” which airs from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. ET/PT. 

The Fierberg National Law Group and School Violence Law, a team of lawyers experienced in defending victims and families affected by fraternity hazing deaths and injury, extend their sincere condolences to the family and friends of Andrew Coffey.

Shooting at Central Michigan University Leaves Two Dead

Two Dead in School Shooting at Central Michigan University.

CMU Shooting, Central Michigan University Shooting, shooting at central michigan university, CMU, school shooting, university shooting, The Fierberg National Law Group
The CMU shooting occurred in Campbell Hall, a student dorm, part of a four dorm towers complex at the university. Police say there are no metal detectors in the dorms, and that the campus is “a gun-free zone.” / CNN.com

The suspect remains at large, armed and dangerous, as students and Mt. Pleasant residents take shelter and two are killed at Central Michigan University.  The CMU shooting is the 12th school shooting this year.  CNN reports:

Two people were fatally shot Friday after a gunman opened fire at Campbell Hall dormitory at Central Michigan University, campus police said.

Campus police identified James Eric Davis Jr. as a suspect in the shootings. Last seen wearing mustard yellow jeans and a blue hoodie, the 19-year-old man is still at large and considered armed and dangerous, according to police.
The shooting happened Friday morning on the dorm’s fourth floor.
The deceased are not students, and campus police said they believe the shootings stemmed from a domestic dispute. There were no other injuries.
Schools in Mount Pleasant, where the university is located, are in “secure mode” — meaning all interior doors are locked, blinds drawn and no one allowed to enter buildings, according to Jennifer Verleger, Mount Pleasant Public Schools superintendent.
The university, which has roughly 20,000 students, is about two hours northwest of Detroit.”

With any devastating circumstance, questions mount – how does a community prevent future tragedies and who should be held responsible?  

CMU may face scrutiny due to the lack of security and protective measures in place at Campbell Hall, as individuals (student or otherwise) are reportedly permitted to enter the residence hall unchecked and unsupervised.

The Fierberg National Law Group and School Violence Law specialize in representing victims of tragedies in school-related settings nationwide, including school shootings.  With an office in Michigan not far from their campus, our legal team is particularly affected by the Central Michigan University shooting. We hope the families involved find answers and, if appropriate, justice.

 

Parents Taking Aim to Prevent Hazing

Following the death of Debbie Smith’s son, Matt, the family learned the severity of what happened to him due to hazing. Since then, they have made documentaries, launched a non-profit, and have been working to change laws to prevent hazing. Susan Snyder with ‘The Inquirer’ reports:

“It puts a bigger face on the story,” said Leslie Lanahan, whose son, Gordie Bailey Jr., the captain of his high school football team, died after an alcohol-saturated fraternity event in 2004 at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “I don’t think it has ever gotten the attention it deserves collectively.”

Hazing has been a problem for decades. In a national 2008 study of more than 11,000 college students, 55 percent of those involved in clubs, teams, and organizations said they experienced hazing. Dozens of students have died, including four in 2017.

Click here to access the full article, and click here for more posts on hazing.

 

Attorney: MSU’s Handling of Title IX Investigation in Nassar Case ‘Appalling’

Photo: The Athletic

A lawyer within Michigan State’s general counsel office is under fire for her role in the Larry Nassar case, particularly for the way she and the university handled a Title IX investigation.

According to court transcripts from last week’s scheduling conference in district court, attorney David Mittleman, whose firm represents more than 70 plaintiffs in the civil litigation pending against Michigan State, registered his dismay in the handling of the Title IX investigation following Amanda Thomashow’s complaint.

One experienced litigator with Title IX expertise, who is not involved in the case, raised doubts that the production of two separate reports in a Title IX investigation would satisfy the aforementioned requirements.

“That doesn’t strike me as equitable when you provide the victim and complainant with some information, but the school with other information,” attorney Monica Beck told The Athletic last week. “That strikes me as not being equitable.”

Read more on The Athletic.

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Parents Who Lost Children Take Aim at Hazing

Photo: Courtesy of Leslie Lanahan

Debbie Smith, founder of the non-profit AHA!: Anti Hazing Awareness, will host an inaugural meeting of families who have lost their children to Greek life misconduct on university campuses all across the nation.

The group plans to strategize on how to accomplish several key goals, including getting better educational programming in middle and high schools, strengthening state and federal laws on hazing, and changing the culture on college campuses, said Smith, a San Francisco Bay area resident, who uses the initials “MM” after her name for “Matt’s mom.” The parents have invited anti-hazing advocates and college student affairs administrators to speak. There are no plans to raise money, but that could change once a platform is developed, Smith said.

Read the full article on The Inquirer.

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Penn State Frat Hit by Judge’s Statewide Ban in Hazing Case

Pi Delta Psi fraternity faces a 10 year ban from operating any chapters in Pennsylvania.

Doug Fierberg, who has represented many clients in lawsuits against fraternities and is representing the Dengs in multiple civil suits against Pi Delta Psi and its members, also was heartened by the rulings.

“It recognizes that chapters are agents and mere extensions of national fraternities and they are responsible for the injury and death caused across this country for decades,” he said.

Access more on Philly.com

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Michael Deng Case: Fraternity, Four Men to be Sentenced in Hazing Death

Dangerous Practices at a Pi Delta Psi fraternity resulted in the hazing death of pledge Michael Deng. Doug Fierberg, an attorney for Deng’s family, said prosecutors in the Piazza case could learn from the outcome of the Deng case and Pi Delta Psi case sentencing.
“These are two of the higher-profile circumstances involving the prosecution of hazing,” said Fierberg. Prosecutors in the Piazza case, he said, “might as well learn” from the outcome of the Deng case.

Fierberg said he expects the Deng case “will help clarify” some things ahead of the Piazza case and could set “a number of precedents.”

Read more on CNN.

19 YEAR OLD STUDENT FOUND DEAD AT FRESNO STATE FRATERNITY

Student dies after visiting delta sigma phi fraternity at California State University – Fresno.

The death of a 19 year old at Fresno State University Delta Sigma Phi fraternity house has sparked a police investigation.

With any devastating circumstance, questions mount – how does a community prevent future tragedies and who should be held responsible?

The student, whose name is not being released at this time, reportedly lay unconscious on the Delta Sigma Pi fraternity house porch before being taken to St. Agnes hospital where he was pronounced dead. 

Fresno Police say by the time they received the medical call for help the young man had passed away. The investigation is ongoing.

Douglas Fierberg – a nationally acclaimed wrongful death attorney representing clients who have sued universities, national fraternities and local chapter members for alcohol and drug-related student deaths – cautions:  

“Even if a party is held at an off-campus fraternity house, the hosts and the organization may still be liable. These organizations need to be rendered safe, there is no excuse for not intervening.”

Fierberg, who is regularly featured in The New York Times to discuss the perils of fraternity hazing violence and death explains:

“The central problem is that in a fraternity house, kids, most of who cannot legally drink, are in charge of getting and serving alcohol.”

Having represented victims of similar tragedies associated with fraternities, our hope is that the friends and family of the victim find answers related to how this terrible loss transpired.