Blog : School Shooting

North Carolina Struggles with Gun Violence on College & University Campuses

Image result for unc shootingTwo people were killed and four others were injured yesterday when Trystan Andrew Terrell, a 22-year-old former history major at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (“UNCC”), opened fire in a classroom building on the campus.

Sadly, this type of violence is not new to NC campuses. Since 2014, there have been multiple other shootings on or near NC colleges and universities – including the shooting of Winston-Salem State University student, Najee Baker, who was shot and killed at a social event at Wake Forest University.

The entire staff at School Violence Law and The Fierberg National Law Group extend our deepest condolences to the students and families affected by this tragic event.

Read More About North Carolina Gun Violence on Campuses at USA Today, CNN and More.

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Where Does School Safety Stand One Year After The Parkland Shooting?

The New York Times | Margaret Kramer and Jennifer Harlan | 

The Parkland students became a force for gun control legislation and boosted the youth vote. Here’s how they changed America’s response to mass shootings.

On Feb. 14, 2018, a former student slaughtered 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The next day, David Hogg, a student who survived the attack, expressed his frustration at the pattern of political inaction that seems to follow mass shootings in the United States. He was not surprised that there had been another school shooting, he said, and that fact alone “says so much about the current state that our country is in, and how much has to be done.”

“We need to do something,” he said. In the course of the next year, students would change the way the nation handles mass shootings, spurring new gun legislation and school safety measures, and holding to account the adults they felt had failed them.

Here’s a look at where they made those changes happen, and where they were disappointed.

With Parkland, it was the students who set the agenda. Their openness about their pain made them formidable leaders of the movement for gun control, and their displays of strength and utter grief struck a chord with a nation numbed by repeated acts of violence.

In the weeks after the shooting, busloads of Stoneman Douglas students took their case to the Florida capital and to Washington. With a rallying cry of “Never Again,” they gathered support from other young people and activists, and their March For Our Lives campaign spurred huge rallies and hundreds of protests, including a nationwide school walkout.

The movement brought youth activism to a new age — finding global power in social media and pushing public officials to acknowledge their accountability.

Stoneman Douglas students and parents were outraged by what they viewed as gross incompetence on the part of school and law enforcement officials. Video showed that a sheriff’s deputy assigned to the school did not enter the building as the attack unfolded. Seven other deputies remained outside as gunshots rang out, a state commission found.

And in January, Florida’s new Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, suspended Sheriff Scott Israel for his “neglect of duty” and “incompetence.”

In the case of Mr. Cruz, the warning signs were many. There were the boasts about killing animals, the expulsion, the stalking of a female classmate, the repeated calls from his mother to the police. School counselors and a sheriff’s deputy decided at one point that he should be forcibly committed for psychiatric evaluation, only to apparently change their minds the next day. Multiple tips to the F.B.I. were left uninvestigated — one woman told the bureau’s tip line she was worried about Mr. Cruz going “into a school and just shooting the place up.” At that time, there was no law in Florida that would have prevented Mr. Cruz from buying a gun or would have allowed the police to take away his weapon. A gun control bill the state passed in March now allows law enforcement — with judicial approval — to bar a person deemed dangerous from owning guns for up to a year.

State legislatures, both Republican- and Democratic-controlled, passed 76 gun control laws in the past year — from bans on bump stocks and caps on magazine sizes to new minimum-age requirements and expanded background checks. Among the victories for gun control advocates was an omnibus bill in Florida that raised the minimum age to purchase a firearm in the state to 21 and extended the waiting period to three days. In all, more than half the states passed at least one gun control measure in 2018, with Washington and New York joining the trend in 2019.

At the same time, there were significantly fewer new state laws expanding gun rights in 2018 than the year before, according to an end-of-year report by the national advocacy group Giffords. Data provided by the N.R.A. also indicated that the number of enacted gun control measures outnumbered pro-gun measures for the first time in at least six years.

Read the Entire New York Times Article Here 

The Fierberg National Law Group and School Violence Law applaud these students. 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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KEEPING STUDENTS SAFE: A GUIDE ON HOW TO PREPARE FOR & PREVENT VIOLENT SITUATIONS AT SCHOOL

Community for Accredited Online Schools (CFAOS) is a comprehensive accreditation resource that provides prospective students and families with the tools needed to make well-informed decisions about their education.

One of the tools provided by CFAOS is a guide packed with information and advice to help keep students safe in school. The guide covers a broad range of school-related violence, turns the spotlight on shootings and gun crime, and has an expert Q&A on the issue of schools and gun control. They also focus on the countless causes of school violence.

The guide includes top resources for students and parents to turn to for further support. As school violence continues to be such an important concern, please view their guide here: https://www.accreditedschoolsonline.org/resources/violence-prevention-schools/ 

 

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Bullying Led to Fatal Shooting of Bobby McKeithen

The New York Times | October 29, 2018 | By Sandra E. GarciaAndrew R. Chow and Matt Stevens

A student at a high school near Charlotte, N.C., fatally shot a schoolmate on Monday morning during a fight before classes began, sending dozens of horrified students fleeing for safety, the authorities said.

Officials said that bullying that had “escalated out of control” had led to the fatal encounter at David W. Butler High School in Matthews, N.C., but would not say who had done the bullying.

“What took place this morning is something that built up,” said Capt. Stason Tyrrell, a patrol commander for the Matthews Police Department, at a news conference. “Several people knew about it — not knew there was going to be a shooting, but knew there was going to be a likelihood of some sort of altercation this morning.”

The police said that Jatwan Craig Cuffie, 16, a ninth grader at the school, was fighting with Bobby McKeithen, 16, a sophomore, in a hallway after 7 a.m., when Mr. Cuffie shot Mr. McKeithen. They did not say what kind of gun was used or how many times Mr. McKeithen was shot.

Mr. Cuffie was charged with first-degree murder on Monday afternoon, Captain Tyrrell said. It was not immediately clear whether he had a lawyer.

Bobby McKeithen, 16, a 10th grader at David W. Butler High School in Matthews, N.C., was shot to death at school early Monday.

“We have literally dozens if not hundreds of kids who were in the hallway when this fight took place who witnessed one of their own be shot and fall to the floor before they ran away in a panic,” said Clayton Wilcox, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools superintendent.

He said the school system was “incredibly saddened by the fact that we had a loss of life on one of our campuses today.”

In a statement late Monday, Mr. McKeithen’s family thanked the community for its prayers and asked for privacy, while also acknowledging that the “tragedy has impacted and changes our lives forever.”

“As parents we never expect to send our children to school and they not return home,” the statement said. “The pain that we are experiencing is a pain that no mother or no father should ever have to experience.”

In a telephone interview, Mario Black, the founder of the Million Youth March of Charlotte and a friend of the McKeithen family, described Mr. McKeithen as a young man who was respectful and outgoing. He loved to dance, was a football fan and could often be found on FaceTime with his friends, Mr. Black said.

Jatwan Craig Cuffie, 16, a ninth grader at Butler High School, has been charged with first-degree murder in the killing.

“It’s been an emotional day,” he said. “You hear about it other places, but for it to be here at the front door, it’s unbelievable.”

A school resource officer called the police Monday morning, saying that he was with the victim and that he had the perpetrator in custody, Captain Tyrrell said during the news conference. The school, its hallways crowded with students before classes began, immediately went into lockdown, according to the police.

“It’s been an extremely tragic event for us here in Matthews,” Capt. Tyrrell said, adding that the investigation was continuing.

Joseph Hanks, 32, had just dropped his son off at school after 7 a.m. when he saw people yelling, screaming and running out of the school.

“I saw a police officer in a full-blown run coming toward me, running as fast as he can,” Mr. Hanks said in a phone interview. “I heard what sounded like someone come over the P.A. system; I believe they were talking about the school lockdown.”

“What took place this morning is something that built up,” said Capt. Stason Tyrrell of the Matthews Police Department.

Mr. Hanks immediately started thinking of how to get his son and himself out of the area as quickly as possible. His son, Brennan Timmons, 15, had made it to the school’s entrance when he heard the officer yelling to leave. Brennan ran back to his father’s car.

“He told me, ‘There’s an active shooter in the school,’” Mr. Hanks said. “The other kids were yelling that there was a shooter, and everyone was pouring out, trying to get away from the school.”

After the shooting, many students were picked up by their parents, but classes remained in session for students who had not been picked up, Mr. Wilcox said. He added that school would be canceled at Butler High on Tuesday.

In the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., in February that left 17 dead, Mr. Wilcox proposed to county commissioners a $1.5 billion budget that included salary raises for teachers and funds for school safety measures. The budget allocated $9 million for hardened doors, two locksmiths, perimeter fencing, additional locks, glass reinforcement and classroom surveillance cameras. The budget also allocated $600,000 for nine security positions that included five police officers.

The budget was approved in June.

On Monday, the police could not immediately say how a student was able to obtain a firearm and bring it onto campus.

Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina, a Democrat, said in a statement that he was “heartbroken to hear about today’s school violence.” He added that it was “critical that we come together to do everything in our power to prevent these incidents from happening and keep guns out of our schools.”

Mr. Wilcox, the superintendent, said, “We are going to look into all of these things and make sure it never happens again.”

The entire staff at School Violence Law and The Fierberg National Law Group extend our sincere condolences.

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March for Our Lives Event This Saturday Coincides with 20th Anniversary of Jonesboro School Shooting

Thousands will come together across the country to protest gun violence on the 20th anniversary of one of the most deadly school shootings of its time.

Tragedy struck nearly 20 years ago in Jonesboro, AR when two students pulled a fire alarm. The duo began to open fire as their fellow classmates and teachers attempted to safely exit the building. The school shooting was fatal for one teacher, Shannon Wright, and four students. In addition, 10 were injured during the attack. Meghan Keneally interviews Mitch Wright, husband of the late Mrs. Wright, and recounts the tragedy for ABC News:

For Mitch Wright, whose wife was the middle school teacher shot to death at the Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas, March 24, 1998, the timing of the march is not so much a coincidence as an act of God, he says.

The March date caught him off guard, Wright told ABC News, because “no one really outside our area really realizes what the 24th represents.”

“The history behind these in the last 20 years, it’s kind of like this: You get a lot of coverage, you get a lot of lawmakers who are typically really adamant about making changes, making promises, and they typically jump ship kind of quick, as soon as the NRA starts pulling their strings,” Wright, 52, said.

“The shooting in Florida really opened the floodgates a whole lot quicker than they normally do. It’s been real tough this week. You just get through it… It’s like a continuous stress ball that you don’t want anyone to ever have to feel,” he said.

Wright is “hopeful” about the new wave of activism that the Parkland students are leading, he said, adding that he’s happy about the March for Our Lives events, especially the one set to take over Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.

“If I could pick somewhere to go [on the anniversary], I would love to go and witness that. I would love to go to D.C. and see those kids march. It would be nice,” he said.

“It boils down to this: You just don’t want another family to go through this. It doesn’t matter what anniversary it is,” Wright said. “They’re still gone and it still hurts.”

Read the full story here.

The Fierberg National Law Group and School Violence Law extend sincere condolences to students and families affected by school shoootings, and support those choosing to march this Saturday.  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.

Click here for related content.

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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.

Click here for related content.

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