Article Comment 

Officials say despite altercations, Columbus High 'very safe place'

 

Jason Browne

 

Reaction has been minimal to possible student involvement in a recent drive-by shooting, according to officials at Columbus High School. 

 

CHS Principal Craig Shannon says he hasn''t received a single phone call from parents in regard to a Nov. 14 drive-by shooting which may have involved CHS students. One of four suspects arrested by the Columbus Police Department in relation to the shooting was picked up Wednesday at CHS. All four men are 18 years old or younger. 

 

By law, Shannon could not confirm whether any of the suspects were students at CHS, but he did confirm an altercation took place on the evening of Nov. 13 during a basketball game near the school''s parking lot entrance on McCrary Road. The CPD believes the shooting stemmed from the altercation. 

 

Suzanne Bean, co-president of CHS''s parent-teacher organization, was unaware of the incident''s relation to the school. 

 

"I have been out of town a little bit, but I spoke with my daughter (a junior at CHS) and haven''t heard anything," she said. 

 

Bean expressed confidence school administrators were taking adequate steps to ensure student safety. 

 

"We know CHS is a very safe place and I''m comfortable with my daughter being there," Bean said. 

 

Officials with the CPD reported the altercation near CHS, the drive-by shooting and a second shooting Nov. 15 in which nobody was injured and no suspects apprehended, could be gang related. Chief Joseph St. John says the department is investigating possible ties between the four drive-by suspects and the Black Guerrilla Family, or BGF, which is a known prison gang, but local members claim the name refers to a rap group. 

 

"We''re investigating if they''re members of the BGF or any gang affiliation," St. John said. 

 

The BGF''s reported rivals in Columbus are the Memphis Town gang. 

 

Officer Bernard Jones, head of security at CHS, says gangs are "nonexistent, more or less" at school. He says fights do occur at the school, but they rarely involve more than two individuals and are more seldom gang related. 

 

To prevent fights or inappropriate behavior at CHS, teachers and administrators stand in the halls between classes and before and after school. 

 

"Every time students are in the hallway, they walk about 20 or 30 steps before they run into another adult," Shannon said. 

 

Shannon also holds monthly parent meetings during which he provides statistics on the number of fights which take place at CHS and the nature of the altercations. Through these meetings, Bean says a slight gang presence has been reported, but gangs are not a major problem. 

 

"They do not tolerate any gang behavior," she said. 

 

Shannon says gang activity at CHS usually manifests in the form of students wearing colored hats or drawing gang symbols in their notebooks. He says such activity is rare and addressed immediately. 

 

"Honestly, I think we may have some individuals that may be affiliated with gangs outside of campus, but they understand that that behavior is not tolerated here inside our school building. Students know they do not bring those types of activities into the school," he said. 

 

The altercation which took place just off the CHS campus Nov. 13 involved 10-15 individuals. Blows were exchanged briefly but the crowd dispersed in a matter of seconds when CHS officers approached. 

 

The CPD was notified and responded to the scene. A short while later officers stopped a group of young men for questioning. When the officers were about to leave the scene, one patrol car ran over a gun which officers believe was thrown under the car by the young men to avoid being caught with the weapon. An automatic pistol and a revolver were recovered from beneath the police cruiser. 

 

No charges were pressed because the officers did not witness the young men in possession of the firearms. Officers witnessed the young men leave the scene in a gold Chrysler. 

 

Around 1 a.m. Nov. 14, Amarcus Patmon, 18, of Columbus, was shot twice in the leg during a drive-by shooting on Seventh Avenue North. 

 

Officers responding to the scene pulled over the same gold Chrysler and arrested its driver, Joseph Allen Rush, 18. Quinton Cortez Hairston, 17; Jameale Cortez Willis, 17; and Javarr Marquest Johnson, 18, were later arrested in connection with the shooting. 

 

Another shooting took place Nov. 15 on 23rd Street North. Nobody was injured or arrested in the shooting and police are investigating its connection with previous incidents.

 

 

 

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Reader Comments

Article Comment teechur commented at 11/21/2009 10:28:00 PM:

Reaction has been minimal because that's how administrators want it to be. Appearances and administrator comments are one thing. Facts are another. Have the CPD complete a random search of classrooms, lockers, and backpacks. I'm more than sure the findings will put fear in the hearts of everyone in Columbus!

 

Article Comment EC commented at 11/22/2009 1:21:00 AM:

Administrators and teachers also won't admit kids are smoking pot and having sex in the bathroom but they are and thats exactly why i withdrew my child out of that crazy Columbus High. And Columbus is NOT a safe place to live anymore. I was reading an article at work ( in another town) about another shooting and my coworker said "Jackson is getting worse by the day" I said,Ha, this is columbus, not Jackson. Do we want Columbus to be another Jackson as far as crime? Well it will be if we don't clean out the politicians in this town.

 

Article Comment enough is enough commented at 11/22/2009 11:28:00 AM:

I know for a fact that the administrators at CHS do nothing about the gangs at the schools. The leader of BGF went to school last year at CHS. Del Philips said that if there were any known gang memebers at the school that they would be kicked out( He said this in a meeting with the chief and other city leaders about gang activity). Well I told a principal about him being the leader and they said they knew and then did nothing about it. It is sad and this propaganda has to stop. You never hear about any bad just all the good.

 

Article Comment LIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! commented at 11/22/2009 2:37:00 PM:

This article is a LIE Dr. Phil and Shannon are keeping alot from the school board members and the public. I wonder how all those box cutters, knives, scissors and a gun have been found on students at the school. I wonder how many weapons have not been found on the students. Public please do not be fooled by these liers. All they want to do is make that school look good hoping that the base parents and other whites bring there kids to Columbus City Schools. Yes it looks good on the outside butall hell is breakig aloose on the inside.

 

Article Comment Perry Anthony commented at 11/22/2009 3:03:00 PM:

Ok you mean to tell me that no one called or is the truth is that you did not answer phone calls last week. We all know that if you call ti the school he may or may not be there. Wonder why parents were withdrawing their children from the school? How many parents came up there to speak to him in person? If everything is so perfect at the High SChool why can't teachers and security talk to school board members? When asked why do have to say that everything is great? Come on people don't take this lie. How long are you all going to cover up the fact that the High School is going to HELL IN A HANDBASKET. The kids rule the school.

 

Article Comment BGFgraduated commented at 11/22/2009 3:11:00 PM:

Can someone explain to me why the known gang member, was arrested at the school, picture was plastered all on the T.V. but this gang and others graduated from CHS last year following the Starkville McDonald incident.

 

Article Comment Failing commented at 11/22/2009 3:51:00 PM:

State test results comes out tomorrow. I bet anyone that Columbus High is in the failing category. Two students got caught last week in the bathroom having sex. Between students having sex in the bathroom, teachers going with students and they covering it up, wonder who else is she dating to get this swept under the rug, fights, drugs and weapons and teachers giving grades, how in thw world will the scores be anything else?

 

Article Comment Louis Moore commented at 11/22/2009 10:23:00 PM:

If the school is so safe why do they have teachers and custodians standing and sitting outside of the restrooms? Also why didn't the commerical dispatch interview everyday parents who do not have a vested interest in the high school?

 

Article Comment Andy commented at 11/23/2009 9:50:00 AM:

People have been caught having sex in schools for years. When I was at Caldwell in 1990, 2 guys and a girl were caught having sex in the weight room. These so called "Gangs" are nothing more than punk chumps that need a good ass kicking.

 

Article Comment Greg commented at 11/23/2009 11:04:00 AM:

I don't doubt any of the comments on here. It sounds like most have some inside information about what is going on at the CHS. I think the school board is more focused on grades and image right now but I still think they will see the same poor grades when the results come out. I agree with Andy, unfortunately, some of these punk chumps are packing guns. Random unannounced searches at school would be a great thing.

 

Article Comment Failing commented at 11/23/2009 2:37:00 PM:

I told you so.Think about it, it is not going to get any better next year when you have the students running the school. Columbus scores will be worst next year if something serious is not done.Start with a superintendent who is made accountable to every parent not just the well to do, (If you refuse to get rid of him instead), and a new principal that is not the superintendent's right hand cover up man.

 

Article Comment Bill Joy commented at 11/23/2009 4:59:00 PM:

I blame the school board. If they don't take a look at whats going on in this school something is going to happen. They thought Dell was the savior to there problems but looks like he has put them in a dark hole nothing has really been accomplished since he's been here same with Shannon. They ran Mr. Mack off at least he was care enough and had discpline. They have another
Mr.Gaha who is not the most friendly person all I see him do is sit around and look pretty. Right the kids rule the school and the teacher are under their rules

 

Article Comment Shay commented at 11/24/2009 2:33:00 PM:

Most of the comments on this board are correct in some way or another. But to say that the teachers are the problem is not correct. The Columbus School Board hired the last principal at CHS and told him there was "teacher apathy"....so he stays 2 years and gets rid of about 30 teachers, some of which were immediately hired by BETTER districts. The new Principal comes in and does basically the same thing. SO there are 'NEW" teachers with "FRESH" ideas but the scores on the state test DROP !!! Hmmmmm..... Now does that sound like there was a teacher problem or a BOARD and administrator problem at that school. The teachers at that school are told not to report certain things and they CAN'T if they value a JOB. There is however a STATE law that says a school administrator must report WEAPONS found in the school or its property, so if this has happened and the administrator has not reported it then he has broken the law. Ask Kennedy Medders why he left the School to take the head security job at MUW. He will tell you because he isn't a cover up person. Ask the Police Chief in Columbus has he been informed by school SRO's that they CAN'T report things. He might tell the truth. The school board and principal are absolutely LYING about the safety in that building. It is GANG invested and discipline is none existent. When I visited the school earlier this year there were signs that said a student had 9 tardies before he was to be sent home. I understand the tardies start over each 9 weeks. Give me a freaking break. Either a kid wants to be there or they don't. The plan should be simple, don't let FEDERAL money come into the equation and gid rid of the TROUBLE makers that are there. When I have garbage I get rid of it or either my house starts to smell. Poke your head outside towards Columbus High and you will get a big whiff.....of something.

 

Article Comment Mary Ann commented at 11/24/2009 9:51:00 PM:

Shay is telling th truth. If you are not a team playing you are placed on the black list. It is encourgaged to lie and say that everything is wonderful at Columbus High. Teachers had to give students that was failing a 50 average then turn around twice and gave students to make up all assignments missed even if the absences was unexcused. Students tell you to write them up because nothing is going to happen to them. They are assigned ISD time but are let out early. If teachers feel that they are not treated fairly they have no one to turn to because the principal and superintendent are buddies and cover up for each other. I can not believe teachers have to walk high school students to lunch as if they are in the 2nd grade and then sit in the cafeteria with them. If teachers have to do this then there is a BIG problem in the school.

 

Article Comment Thom Geiger commented at 11/24/2009 10:38:00 PM:

It's sad that an issue this serious, a problem as important as this one is, results in the same old censorship that has, for years, hobbled our city's ability to face our problems and do something to solve them.
If the message content is is upsetting to some people, certain people, the message is censored. I have already had two messages censored in the last month...one about problems at the high school and one about annexation.
Birney, Peter, when is it ever going to stop? You can't "disappear" the problems any more than you can stop public awareness and knowledge of an issue by censoring public commentary to the newspaper. It only reflects on you, the business you run and your concept of journalism.
I sign my comments and don't hide behind an editorial. Signed, Thom E. Geiger

 

Article Comment Lance commented at 11/25/2009 8:40:00 AM:

I am not worried at all. The new multi million dollar soccer complex should solve this problem within the first couple days.

 

Article Comment teechur commented at 11/25/2009 2:00:00 PM:

The principal doesn't get rid of teachers, they leave for better pay and a better work environment!

 

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