Thomas “T.J.” Boykin returned for his final year at Frank W. Ballou Senior High School last September with the simple goal of graduating. First, he needed a class schedule. But at Ballou, such schoolhouse basics couldn’t be taken for granted.
T.J., like about 100 members of Ballou’s student body, didn’t receive a schedule on the first day of school. Nor the second. Nor even the fifth. Administrators blamed a computer virus. Instead of sending the children into classrooms with their peers, the school warehoused them in the cafeteria.
So T.J.’s routine went like this: He woke up at 6:30 a.m. and boarded a Metrobus that would take him out of the Barry Farm Dwellings for the 15-minute ride to Ballou, in Congress Heights. Then he took his place at a lunch table. “I didn’t do anything,” T.J. says of his cafeteria limbo. “I waited around.”
T.J. kept hoping an administrator would pop into the cafeteria any minute with his schedule. By Week 2, the cafeteria scene had turned into a test of patience. No homework, no books, no pop quizzes. The curriculum consisted of playing Spades, eating Doritos, guzzling Mountain Dews, talking about football, shooting air hoops, wrestling, slapping high fives, gossiping, and running around. Each period came and went, marked only by the rotation of teachers charged with baby-sitting T.J. and the rest. There was little effort to turn the mess hall into a study hall.
T.J. usually just gravitated to a table, a pair of headphones, and discs of his own raps, such as “Look at Me Now” and “The Daily Thing.”
T.J. started writing rap lyrics when he was 11; he was recording his own stuff at 15. At school, he kept his music to himself and his spiral notebooks. In the cafeteria, he had nothing to do but think about songs and fill up those notebooks. “At times when I was real bored,” he says, “I wrote a few lyrics.”
I feel lost, like tryna navigate with no map!
But soon I’ll find my true spot, expressin’ myself through raps!
The only break in the inaction came just after lunch: That’s when janitors cleaned the cafeteria and the students stood in the hallway until they were finished. To one teacher, Nicole Sivolella, the whole scene was pathetic, a “holding bin.” “Just kids hanging out,” she explains. “In other words, a makeshift classroom—forget it.”
The routine was as tiresome at school as the questions from his mom back home—“Did you get your schedule yet?” asked Pearlie Boykin when her son arrived home each day. After three weeks of cafeteria squatting, Pearlie Boykin appealed to Assistant Principal Richard Gross: “I got on him,” she says, asking him to write out a schedule for T.J. Gross explained that the computers were down and told her to call back soon. (Gross says he remembers speaking with Boykin but cannot recall the content of their discussion.)
On Oct. 2, a mercury spill propagated by a student left Ballou uninhabitable for a month. When makeshift classes started up at the old convention center on Oct. 6, any student without a schedule was not permitted inside. So T.J.—along with a lot of other scheduleless students—stayed home.
When students returned to Ballou, on Nov. 5, T.J. returned to the cafeteria with the few remaining students still without assigned classes. Soon, though, administrators finally gave T.J. a handwritten schedule. Now he had a path to graduation.
All T.J. had to do was follow the class schedule and avoid the scraps that often erupted in the school’s hallways. On Nov. 10, a fight broke out among more than a dozen students in the cafeteria. At the heart of the beef was the long-running rivalry between Ballou students hailing from Barry Farm and those from the project formerly known as Condon Terrace. Although T.J. lived in Barry Farm, he didn’t consider himself a foot soldier for any community rivalry. He wasn’t in school on the day of the cafeteria brawl.
Yet the fight diminished T.J.’s standing in Ballou’s chaotic corridors. In its aftermath, Principal Art Bridges expelled several Barry Farm students, leaving T.J. virtually alone to deal with the neighborhood tensions and the taunts of Condon Terrace students. Ballou became a lonely place to be.
“See, Dr. Bridges put all the kids from around here, from Barry Farm, out—it was only him and two other kids,” Pearlie Boykin says. “They knew that, so they’d pick on him.”
Boykin says she talked to the principal about T.J.’s safety. She got this response: “I’m going to watch out for him.”
But the principal’s assurances didn’t do much good. Day after day, Pearlie Boykin would ask T.J. how school had gone. T.J. would show a sad look and say, “Ma, it was just another day at school.”
Then T.J., 18, would get real quiet. “He wouldn’t say anything,” Pearlie Boykin remembers. “He’d just suck his thumb.”
From his mother’s living-room sofa, T.J. would head for his second-floor bedroom every afternoon. There, he’d put on his headphones and blanket himself in his music. T.J. had transformed his room into a studio—keyboard, mixer, hard drives. He had even converted his closet into a recording booth complete with a stand-alone microphone. It was a solitary art.
By the late fall, the long hours T.J. spent in his bedroom mixing beats and writing lyrics had started to pay off. His main band, Boobe & the Young Farmers, had released its second album and had landed shows with national acts such as Eightball and the YoungBloodz downtown and as far away as South Carolina. The band was getting steady radio play, and a major record label had expressed interest. Kids started knocking on T.J.’s front door, asking to buy his CDs.
Music, though, could take T.J. away from Ballou only for short spells. Each morning, he’d have to face the school again, along with the taunts and teasing that followed him down its hallways.
Leroy, T.J.’s constant after-school companion and a musician as well, remembers his pal mentioning the harassment but never identifying a particular bully. “He’d say they picked on him…say little stuff to him, bump into him in the hall when he was with his girlfriend—stuff like that,” Leroy says.
An older brother, John, who is also a Young Farmer, says that in November things got bad enough that T.J. stopped going to school. “He was afraid,” John says. “I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what it was.”
T.J. did confide in John that the source of his trouble came from the Condon Terrace students. “He got caught up in all the shit,” John says.
T.J. didn’t skip school for long. Once he was back at Ballou, he tried to stay away from his tormentors. “He hated to go,” says Pearlie Boykin. “I felt so bad. I wanted to transfer him, but he said, ‘Ma, I’m’a hang in there.’”
That’s all T.J. could do. In Ballou’s corridors, he continued to fall victim to taunts, bumps, and menacing stares of all sorts with little or no attention from school administrators. As security documents attest, they had far more serious issues to deal with.
During the first three months of the current school year, 24 infractions occurred that were bad enough for the school to report them to D.C. Public Schools security. Seven students were busted with concealed weapons. Four were caught with drugs. There were three simple assaults, three thefts, and two incidents in which shots were fired on school grounds. There was one sexual-harassment case, an episode of vandalism, and a case of a teacher assaulting a student.
And there was plenty more that never registered with school officials—the stuff that just became part of Ballou’s architecture. Students adopted certain hallways for weed smoking. Others colonized stairwells for all-day craps games. The bark of “Get to class!” rarely led to disciplinary action.
The security staff, according to teachers, students, and the police, was a joke. As one student put it: “They play like we do.” Sivolella recalls watching one day as Ballou students who were skipping class work on the ’do of a security guard. “I remember thinking to myself, This is un-fucking-believable,” Sivolella says. “He works for Ballou and he’s getting his hair done.” (Watkins Security Agency of D.C., the school system’s contractor, refused to comment for this story.)
Even when they were on the job, the dozen or so security guards lacked the equipment required to police the hallways. For starters, they didn’t have enough metal-detecting wands to check all the school’s 1,000 registered students, according to William Lockridge, who represents Ballou on the school board. And their radios were on a different frequency from those of in-school Metropolitan Police Department officers.
The walk-through metal detectors that greeted students every morning were a farce, says history teacher Debra Iverson. Although CD players and cell phones were banned from Ballou, students still managed to easily bring them inside.
Lockridge says: “I can’t say they worked every day.”
Iverson says it was nothing for a student to skip her class, run back to the neighborhood to grab friends, and re-enter the campus ready to fight. Students knew better than security where the unattended doors and unlocked windows were, Sivolella says.
So T.J. was left to deal with his tormentors alone. By all accounts, he did nothing to provoke their wrath except come from Barry Farm. “That nigga was a bitch ’cause he’s from the Farm,” explains Condon Terrace resident Winslow Thomas.
Sometime between the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, Ballou’s star running back, James “J-Rock” Richardson, joined T.J.’s bullies. J-Rock was a popular, tough-talking junior from Condon Terrace who was ever conscious of the schism with Barry Farm students. According to a school-system source,
J-Rock had words with T.J. at least once.
T.J. had grounds to fear the Condon Terrace students. On Dec. 19, a close friend and neighbor of T.J.’s was killed in a drive-by shooting. Word on the street was that the Condon Terrace kids were responsible.
T.J. and J-Rock had their first physical contact at the end of January, says the school-system source. J-Rock had an argument with another Barry Farm student and bumped T.J. in a hallway.
Nobody dwelt on the plight of the bony kid who got pushed around. T.J. didn’t wear flashy clothes, choosing fitted jeans over baggies, and jerseys such as the one from his beloved Green Bay Packers. He got decent grades but never straight A’s; he flirted with joining one club, ROTC, but didn’t end up doing so. He didn’t attend the school’s football games regularly. The one thing teachers and students could say about T.J. was that he was mannerly toward his teachers. He was the quiet kid, the one with no rap sheet.
And the cops later charged with running T.J.’s name through the school’s hallways would come to the same conclusion.
“Pretty good kid,” says Assistant Police Chief Winston Robinson. “Just good.”
J-Rock was one of the few students at Ballou who could feel relatively safe amid the constant scrapes and teasing. The 17-year-old junior was confident that he could take anyone on with his fists. “‘Leave your boys and let’s take it to the bathroom.’ That was James,” says Ballou Athletic Director Noel Cyrus.
The 5-foot-8 running back didn’t have too many takers. The only kids who would try him on a regular basis were a loud bunch of guys from Barry Farm.
Between the halls, the cafeteria, and the gym, J-Rock could always find someone to talk to: his football buddies, his coaches, his girl. And it sure beat going to class. “James had to be prodded to get to class,” says Bridges. “If you asked James, ‘Where’s your class?’ he’d say, ‘That way,’ and go the other way. And you had to back up.”
For J-Rock, high school wasn’t about English or biology. It was about football. There was no “J-Rock” before he joined the school team during his sophomore year. Until then, his friends and family referred to him by his childhood nickname, “Bam-Bam.” Once it became clear how far James could carry the “rock” on his lightning-fast feet, J-Rock was born.
He played harder than anyone, his teammates say. And the stats back them up: In the 2003 season, J-Rock tallied 1,100 yards and 22 touchdowns over the course of eight games. He could cover 40 yards in 4.4 seconds. He talked about an NFL career as if he’d already signed a contract. “He never liked it around [Atlantic Street SE],” his mother, Michelle Richardson-Patterson, recalls. “He would compare it to what we saw on TV. Like The Home Show. I always watch that. He would sit on my bed with me and say, ‘I’m your ticket out of this ghetto.’”
J-Rock’s friends and coaches say his dominance on the gridiron changed him. Once an average, small-framed kid,
J-Rock came to represent Condon Terrace in its feud with Barry Farm. “Getting
J-Rock was a way to send a message to Condon Terrace,” says Assistant Coach David Venable. According to a school-system source, J-Rock didn’t help matters by verbally “egging on” the rivalry between neighborhoods at Ballou.
J-Rock’s off-the-field leadership made him a marked man. His coaches say they heard of at least four death threats against
J-Rock between September 2003 and January 2004.
In October, someone shot at J-Rock while he was on his way to school, say his parents. Later that month, a member of the coaching staff overheard a death threat against J-Rock at a barbershop. The coach apprised J-Rock of the rumor and told the running back to “get his shit together,” says a witness to the interaction. J-Rock took umbrage at the admonishment, raising a fist at the coach. “If you want to fight me, go ahead,” said the coach, according to the witness. “I won’t hit you back.”
J-Rock then broke down crying.
More threats came out of the November Turkey Bowl, D.C.’s annual championship football game. During the game, police caught wind of the beef and escorted J-Rock off the field once time expired.
When the Nov. 10 brawl between Barry Farm and Condon Terrace students broke out in the cafeteria, Cyrus and members of the football squad formed a human barricade around J-Rock, so J-Rock wouldn’t get sucked into the mix. “‘We need you,’” Cyrus recalls saying. “‘You not getting in any fights.’”
At least not with other guys. In October 2003, the star running back allegedly bit his ex-girlfriend on the face, according to court records. In June 2003, he had broken a window at her house.
And when relationship troubles reached the halls of Ballou, school administrators treated them like another day at work. As first reported by WUSA-TV, on Dec. 1,
J-Rock got into an argument with his ex-girlfriend in a school hallway. The encounter didn’t stay verbal for long.
J-Rock allegedly “grabbed [her] about the hair” and also “slapped [her] with an opened [sic] hand to the left eye area causing swelling and redness to the same,” according to the police report. (Her name is being withheld because she is a minor.)
Because the December incident was a “he-said/she-said” situation, says a teacher familiar with the alleged incident, administrators took no disciplinary action against J-Rock. He was never charged by police, either, says William Patterson,
The grandmother of J-Rock’s ex-girlfriend, who asked that her name not be used to protect her granddaughter’s identity, says she opted for a civil protection order and a transfer for her charge because she didn’t have confidence in Ballou officials. “We knew nothing would be done,” she says.
On Jan. 14, Richardson-Patterson signed the civil protection order on her son’s behalf. According to the order,
J-Rock agreed to stay away from his ex-girlfriend without admitting to the December assault.
J-Rock didn’t go to the hearing that day. By then, he had stopped going to school. His grades, never stellar, had suffered further, despite his placement in special-education courses. He knew he had to improve his marks to have any chance of getting into college and making the pros. But even football wasn’t enough incentive for J-Rock to stay in school. Neither was his second love, basketball.
In December, J-Rock played a few games with the Ballou varsity boys basketball team, then quit abruptly. He told one coach that an injury had sidelined him. His parents say the real reason he avoided Ballou was fear for his safety.
On Jan. 29, 2004, J-Rock walked through the metal detectors at Ballou for the first time in over a month. A couple of days earlier, Cyrus had coaxed J-Rock back with the news that he was making a highlight tape to send to colleges. “I told him, ‘Man, this tape look too good. You look good. We can still get this grade thing together, and you can still go to the school of your choice,’” Cyrus recalls. “He was looking forward to…a fresh start.”
The next day, a Friday, during lunch in the cafeteria, J-Rock had words with a boy from Barry Farm, according to friends who were present. And that was the day he bumped T.J. School-system security officials made plans to call D.C. Public Schools headquarters the following Monday to have J-Rock transferred. “There was too much going on with him,” says a source. They “thought it would be better to take him out of that environment.” They never got a chance to make the call.
The morning of Monday, Feb. 2,
J-Rock stopped in at Ballou even though he had planned to take off part of the day to attend the funeral of Jeffrey McIlwain, a friend who was shot and killed on Jan. 24. Cyrus says he saw J-Rock in the hall outside his classroom and nagged him as usual. “I said, ‘Take off your hat. Go to class. Get out of the hall.’” J-Rock shot back his standard reply: “‘Yes, my son.’”
Then J-Rock headed toward the cafeteria.
J-Rock came across T.J. in a hallway by the lunchroom. The football player wasn’t the type to bite his tongue. He called T.J. “pretty,” witnesses would later tell police. T.J. swung. J-Rock stumbled, then dropped to the floor to do push-ups, according to an eyewitness. A few students started to laugh.
“Mr. Richardson got himself up, and the fight was on,” said Police Detective Rita McCoy at a Feb. 20 bond hearing. Friends from both camps entered the melee, which lasted for several minutes.
Standing just outside the school’s day-care center and the attendance office, near a mural that reads “To see more is to become more,” T.J. allegedly pulled out a silver-colored automatic handgun.
But J-Rock didn’t stop trash-talking, says a police source.
“Why don’t you leave me alone?” T.J. asked J-Rock, according to police testimony, as he opened fire. Bullets hit
J-Rock in the arm, leg, and chest, according to police testimony. Another shot grazed the leg of a nearby male student. T.J. sustained bullet wounds in his right thigh and calf, probably self-inflicted, say law-enforcement sources. T.J.’s family insists otherwise, adding that at least one wound was severe and deep.
Assistant Principal Gross, who was on his way to the cafeteria, says he heard five shots and ran toward them. He herded students in his path into the cafeteria and locked the door. When he reached the scene, he saw J-Rock falling to the ground. As J-Rock lay facedown on the floor, a security aide threw his body over the boy’s, say eyewitnesses.
T.J., his right leg bleeding, ran out of the school through the main entrance with two other students.
Kids tore through the halls, delivering news of the shooting. Gross, who was in charge of the building that day, says the school went on Code Red—disaster status. Teachers locked themselves and students in classrooms for the next couple of hours.
Emergency technicians flew J-Rock to Washington Hospital Center. Around 11:30 a.m., doctors pronounced him dead. The episode would be recorded as Incident No. 1113 in the logs of the city’s Division of School Security, one of more than 50 so far this school year.
Between Jan. 1, 2003, and Feb. 11, 2004, the Metropolitan Police Department reported 192 service calls to Ballou. Officers wrote up reports for 57 of them.
The last time Pearlie Boykin saw T.J. before the shooting, he was happy, excited even, to go to school that day. He put on the new tan North Face jacket that Boykin had bought for him over the weekend. He had hardly been able to wait for Monday to roll around so he could show it off. Boykin had also given him some money to buy boots to go with his coat.
“He said, ‘Aiight,’ and that was it,” says Boykin. “That was it.”
After the shooting, T.J. went right home. He later talked with a close associate who describes him only as “really shook up, shocked.” T.J. also made attempts to contact a lawyer. That evening, 15 police officers surrounded his house. They asked his mother for T.J., but he wasn’t there.
The day after the shooting, just before he turned himself in, T.J. handed his mother a fistful of bills—the money she had given him to buy the boots. When he arrived at the 7th District station house, police drove him to Greater Southeast Hospital, where his wounds were treated, say sources close to the investigation. T.J. said nothing to detectives.
Several hours later, police arrested a 14-year-old Condon Terrace boy on Atlantic Street SE, carrying a Mac-10 and a loaded semiautomatic handgun. Police sources speculate that the boy might have been planning to use the weapon to avenge
J-Rock’s murder, adding that he might have a connection to one of J-Rock’s brothers.
Both T.J.’s and J-Rock’s families awoke on Tuesday to find reporters and news cameras roosting on their doorsteps. Richardson-Patterson says she was also besieged by a small parade of ambulance-chasing lawyers. A friend shut the door in their faces.
That night, angry parents and students confronted Mayor Anthony A. Williams in the Ballou auditorium. The following week, Ballou hosted a candlelight vigil. Inside the school, administrators set up a memorial wall of posters with anti-violence messages written in colored marker. In the blank spaces, J-Rock’s friends scrawled yearbook-worthy sentiments about the dead teen, such as “Missing you like sh*t boy.” A lone T.J. supporter wrote: “Keep your head up T.”
The Saturday following J-Rock’s murder, hundreds of mourners crammed into the aisles of Paramount Baptist Church, spilling out onto the sidewalk. The ushers hurried them past the casket, where
J-Rock lay dressed in his No. 8 blue-and-gold Ballou football jersey—the team’s new uniform for home games.
From the pulpit, Mayor Williams, school Superintendent Elfreda Massie, and school-board member Lockridge, among others, implored everyone in the room not to retaliate, to love one another, and, most of all, to pray.
Since the shooting, Richardson-Patterson has made it her business to attend as many J-Rock–related events as possible. Her husband, William Patterson, stays home. He says he can’t take any more memorials.
In an appearance organized by a pastor at a Germantown, Md., elementary school last month, Richardson-Patterson delivered a rousing 30-minute sermon. Dressed in purple and gold, Richardson-Patterson declared, to rising applause: “The best is yet to come! I got more boys. Somebody going to run that football. Not like J-Rock, but better than J-Rock. One of my boys is going to run that ball.”
The night before, Richardson-Patterson had arrived at the Ballou gymnasium after tip-off and taken a seat in the first row of the bleachers by the door. The halftime show was devoted to a program by Coaches Against Gun Violence.
She wasn’t alone. On one side sat a lawyer named Lydia. Richardson-Patterson had booted Lydia from her stoop in the days following the shooting, but now the attorney was back for another pitch. When Lydia wasn’t sweet-talking Richardson-Patterson, correspondents from various local television news shows took turns interviewing her.
Between interruptions, Richardson-Patterson kept up with what was happening on the gym floor. After every huddle, the boys basketball team shouted
“J-Rock!” And under her breath, Richardson-Patterson muttered, “He still rock.” She also took notes in her organizer. When the founder of No More Murders DC shouted, “The goal is to have a city that’s murder-free. Who’s with me?” Richardson-Patterson jotted down: “Goal: To (have a city that is) murder-free.”
Afterward, the girls team took to the court with “J-Rock, No. 8,” scrawled on their arms. As each girl ran out, she stopped to shake Richardson-Patterson’s hand or give her a hug.
Later, while riding in a car back to her house, Richardson-Patterson ran through her TV interviews. She could recite all the correspondents’ names. She said she had refused to answer one of them. “He asked, ‘How have the last two weeks been?’ It was the wrong question to ask,” she fumed. “‘How have the last two weeks been?’ Does he really want to know? What does he think it’s like not tucking that child in bed at night? Not making something for him to eat that he can take on his way out the door? How does he think it’s been?”
Back at home, Richardson-Patterson packed up the hundreds of condolence cards she had received and put them in a large blue plastic container. She would not get a chance to sort through them again for a while.
The next morning, Richardson-Patterson attended the bond hearing for Boykin at D.C. Superior Court. Outside the courtroom, she locked eyes with a man from Barry Farm who made a gun with his hand and pointed it at his head, she says.
Richardson-Patterson cried out for protection, and the marshals surrounded her. A few of J-Rock’s female friends, outnumbered by Barry Farm residents, hissed threats of their own to T.J.’s supporters.
“I’m going to kill you,” muttered one girl to a friend of T.J.’s.
“Fuck you looking at my face for?” said another.
A third girl, one of J-Rock’s closest friends, talked loudly into a cell phone, preparing for war. “I don’t care if I get shot,” she shouted. She pulled the phone away from her ear and said to the other two: “The only reason they killed J-Rock is they couldn’t beat him with their hands. He was too much for them.”
After his Feb. 20 bond hearing, T.J. called his mother to tell her that the detective, the prosecutor—all of what they had said was wrong. “Ma, I didn’t do those things,” he told her. “I’m not that type of person.”
T.J. these days resides at the D.C. Jail, an environment to which he’s having trouble adjusting. He has never been locked up before.
He wasn’t expecting the taunts he endured in school to continue at the jail—nor did he know that they would sound far more menacing coming from grown men, as opposed to boyish
classmates. En route to the infirmary on a Thursday morning to have his leg wound checked, T.J. was getting off an elevator when an inmate threatened to hurt him, promised to do something bad to him. He was shook up real bad, his family says.
On Feb. 24, T.J.’s sister Tammie went to the jail to visit her brother. Among T.J.’s concerns was whether he would be left without visitors during the Boykin family’s annual May trip to Disney World. Tammie assured him that she wouldn’t be abandoning him.
During their brief visit, T.J. told Tammie he was spending most of his time writing lyrics, that he had probably written a whole album’s worth of lyrics since his incarceration. He asked after his keyboard and his big desk. But you can’t bring those through the jail’s doors.
“Could I bring you a box?” Tammie asked T.J., causing a group of girls seated behind her to laugh at her naiveté about protocol.
All of this was prologue to T.J.’s main source of worry: school. He wondered about Ballou. He was concerned about how far behind he must be getting, if he’d be able to catch up from where he was.
“Could I finish?” T.J. asked.
A few days later, school was still on his mind. “I want to graduate,” T.J. said during a phone interview one Saturday evening. “That’s a real big thing on my list. Graduating and going to college.” CP
Dec. 4, 2002, 1:45 p.m.
A female student and a male special-education student were involved in a verbal altercation that turned physical in the cafeteria. The boy grabbed the girl and slammed her head into the soda machine. He then picked her up over his head and slammed her onto the floor. Next, he grabbed her throat and banged her head on the floor before fleeing. The girl was incoherent and dizzy. The school-assigned nurse came to her aid and provided medical treatment. Security was notified and responded. An ambulance transported the victim to D.C. General Hospital. The police placed the boy under arrest.
Dec. 18, 2002, 12:45 p.m.
A male teacher observed four male students gambling in the cafeteria. The teacher entered and confiscated a hat from the head of one of the students. The student attempted to retrieve his hat, and the teacher informed him that he could get it back at 3:15. The student “positioned himself in a threatening manner,” and the teacher held his arm up to protect himself. Another student then struck the teacher. All four students began striking and kicking the teacher, who sustained a broken elbow. The police placed all four under arrest. Expulsion was pending at the time of the report.
Dec. 20, 2002, 11:25 a.m.
A male security guard encountered a female student carrying food on a tray in the hallway and informed her that she could not have food in the hallway. The student continued walking toward the guard with the tray. She dropped some of the food from the tray onto the floor. The guard then knocked the tray to the floor, picked it up, and threw it in the trash can. The student punched him in the face. He informed her that she could be arrested for striking an officer. The student punched the guard, giving him a cut lip. The guard escorted her to the main office. The school nurse administered first aid to the guard and recommended that he seek medical attention. The police placed the student under arrest.
March 12, 2003, 3:12 p.m.
A female special-education student walked up behind a female teacher during class and struck the teacher in the head with a book. The student then departed the building for the rest of the day. The teacher went to the main office and reported the incident. She stated, referring to the student, “I don’t think she has that right.”
Sept. 9, 2003, 3:05 p.m.
A security guard was outside the school when he heard shots fired on the 400 block of Trenton Street SE. A male student then hurriedly drove up to the guard in a burgundy Buick and said, “Did you hear them shooting?” The student then drove away. The police responded, and another male student told them that he had been shot at while standing at 5th and Trenton Streets SE.
Sept. 9, 2003, 2:25 p.m.
Two male students got involved in a verbal altercation. One student head-butted the other, who responded by punching his assailant in the mouth. Security broke up the fight. One boy fled the building. Each suffered “a busted mouth,” and both were suspended for three days. Police took a report.
Sept. 15, 2003, noon
A female special-education student assaulted another female student outside the main office. The attacker grabbed the victim by the hair and repeatedly punched her in the face with her fist. When the victim fell to the floor, the attacker stomped her head, leaving a gash and swollen right eye. An ambulance took the victim to Greater Southeast Community Hospital. Police arrested her assailant. A search of the attacker produced a can of Mace and a knife. Administrative action was pending at the time of the report.
Oct. 29, 2003, 2 p.m.
As a female psychologist was leaving her office, a female student grabbed her buttocks and said, “It’s soft, too.” The psychologist immediately notified security and the school-assigned police officer. The officer did not complete a report. The student was to be transferred to Ballou STAY, a night school.
Oct. 30, 2003, 1:55 p.m.
A female student was in a mediation with security, the police, and other female students. The student began arguing with the other girls, and things started to get physical. The student reached in her jacket pocket and pulled out a knife. The student’s parents were to be notified. Administrative action was pending at the time of the report.
Nov. 4, 2003, 2 p.m.
A male student was closing a classroom door for an assistant principal when a male teacher ordered the student to get out of the classroom. When the student tried to explain why he was there, the teacher grabbed the student’s arms. The student jerked away from the teacher and told him not to touch him. The teacher then pointed a finger at the student and said, “I’ll see you on the street.” The student informed security and a police officer. Administrative action was pending at the time of the report.
Nov. 5, 2003, 3 p.m.
Five security guards witnessed a nonstudent standing on 4th and Trenton Streets SE, shooting a handgun toward the school. The witnesses pushed the students back into the school building and notified police. Officers chased the suspect to Hart Middle School, where they apprehended him and confiscated a .38-caliber long-nose revolver. No fatalities occurred.
Nov. 10, 2003, 12:30 p.m.
About a dozen male students began fighting in the cafeteria. Security intervened and broke up the fight. One male guard was injured in the right shoulder and drove himself to a Kaiser Permanente facility. One student sustained a concussion and was taken to Greater Southeast Community Hospital. Security notified police, who didn’t take a report. All the students were expelled.
Dec. 1, 2003
(no time specified)
A male student from Condon Terrace and a male student from Barry Farm were involved in a physical altercation. A male security guard broke up the fight. Neither student had injuries. The Condon Terrace student was transferred to night school. The Barry Farm student didn’t return to school after the fight.
Dec. 10, 2003, 2:58 p.m.
A male student and a male special-education student had a physical altercation in the cafeteria. A security guard and his supervisor went to the cafeteria and saw the students, along with several others, huddled together. The security guard and the supervisor were trying to break up the fight when two other male students began fighting. When the security guard tried to break up that fight, a fight between three more students erupted. Police took a report. All the students were placed under arrest for “disorderly fighting.” Six of them were taken to juvenile detention. One student, who was 18 years old, was taken to the 7th District police station.
Dec. 11, 2003, 10:30 a.m.
An assistant principal stopped a female student to find out why she had been absent from school. She told the assistant principal that a “volunteer/
male” had forced her to have sex with him. When the volunteer came to school that day, security detained and questioned him. No police report was taken. Administrative action was pending at the time of the report.
Dec. 12, 2003, 2:35 p.m.
A male special-education teacher told an assistant principal that he had returned to the student a knife that had been confiscated back in September 2003. The principal was notified. Administrative action was pending at the time of the report.
Dec. 16, 2003, 5:30 p.m.
A male student reported to security that, after a game against Roosevelt Senior High School, a male coach pushed him against the lockers, grabbed his collar, then put a fist against his face. The student had no injuries. During a meeting with the principal, the student, security officials, and another coach, the accused coach admitted to putting his hands on the student. Administrative action was pending at the time of the report.
Jan. 7, 2004, 3:10 p.m.
A special-education student and a female student were arguing near the cafeteria. The special-education student hit the female student. Three other students then began assaulting the special-education student, who sustained a cut lip. Another student received a scratch on the face. All the students were suspended for 10 days.
Jan. 13, 2004, 9:30 a.m.
A female special-education student and a male special-education student were arguing on the second floor. During the argument, the male student bit the female student on the left cheek, but didn’t break the skin. Police placed the male student under arrest for assault with a deadly weapon: teeth. Administrative action was pending at the time of the report.
Feb. 9, 2004, 10 a.m.
A female student from Barry Farm hit a female student from Condon Terrace as they sat in a classroom. The two began fighting. The Barry Farm student sustained swelling on her left cheek. Administrative action was pending at the time of the report.
Art accompanying story in the printed newspaper is not available in this archive: Photographs by Darrow Montgomery and Charles Steck.