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Police probe postgame shooting as schools react to mix of football and firearms

on October 1, 2019

One Richmond teenager remained hospitalized with gunshot wounds as Richmond Police continue their investigation of a shooting after a Friday night football game outside De Anza High School last week. The incident injured three teenagers. Two of the teens were treated and released, and the third teen still in the hospital has been upgraded from serious to stable condition, police said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile school officials grappled with how to deal with the interplay of school rivalry and firearms in a city that has struggled to change an image marred by a history of violence.

In response to the shooting, West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) Board Member Consuelo Lara stressed the nationwide need to improve gun control, defuse anger, and care for the emotional needs of youth before and after traumatic incidents.

Lara said that while some people might use the incident to knock the city’s reputation, the incident is part of a trend that includes a rising number of school-related shootings

“When you just look at what’s going on nationwide, you know it’s more than that,” Lara said. “It’s a bigger issue certainly about gun control, but then there’s just the angry reactions to everything.”

For his part, WCCUSD Superintendent Matthew Duffy in an email noted the rise in fights during local sports events, and promised actions that could include barring fans or cancelling games.

The gunfire erupted around 9:20 p.m. on Friday, September 27 just outside De Anza High School as students and other spectators were leaving following the end of its football game against Pinole Valley High School. Richmond Police said in a Facebook post on Saturday that officers were responding to a fight in the 3300 block of Morningside Drive shortly before the shots were fired. The post included a surveillance video clip of the neighborhood when the shots were fired.

In Duffy’s email on Sunday to community members, he deplored the incident as a “needless act of violence,” promising additional safety steps at the district’s schools – especially in the wake of disturbances breaking out during and after athletic events. He wrote that there were small fights during the game last Friday, and a football game a few weeks ago at Deer Valley High School had to be halted because of fighting.

 “Safety is the absolute priority of our school board and district leadership. We will take all necessary measures to ensure our schools, our games, and most importantly our students are safe. To that end, if we need to take more extreme measures around prohibiting fan attendance or even cancelling games, we will do so,” Duffy added. 

WCCUSD Superintendent Matthew Duffy wrote a message to community members, addressing school safety issues and recent fights at school games.

“We work hard to make sure schools places of safety and security in an uncertain social environment,” he wrote. “Our schools are not exempt from the challenges facing the communities they serve, but it is our obligation to keep the students and staff who are on our campus safe.”

Duffy thanked police officers from both Richmond and Pinole as well as teachers and staff at the two schools, who together with district personnel “will be supporting staff and students who were impacted by this traumatic event.”

Lara told Richmond Confidential that she hopes the district can provide for the social and emotional health of school children and their families, with stronger trauma care at schools.

Rodney Alamo Brown, Richmond resident and community advocate, invited community members to meet to address safety at football games and campus security for students. Brown said about 20 people came to discuss starting a committee with the district to focus on issues at athletic games.

Lara commended WCCUSD staff members for their quick reaction to the incident. “It makes me sad that people think or insinuate that the district is not doing everything that it can,” she said. “Everybody feels strongly about this area, and we don’t ignore it or take it lightly.”

Header image: Richmond Police posted on Facebook a surveillance video clip showing a car leaving the scene immediately shooting on Friday, September 27 outside De Anza High School.

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