Gun-Related Incidents at Berkeley Schools Spark Discussions

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Three Berkeley High School students were arrested Tuesday in connection with two incidents involving firearms, one of which resulted in a loaded gun being discharged and striking a wall of one of the school's portable classroom buildings. No one was injured.

According to a statement from principal Pasquale Scuderi, a school staff member notified his supervisor after hearing a gunshot in the southeast area of the campus at around 8:45 a.m. Safety staff pursued two suspects off campus while all individuals were restricted from entering or exiting the campus perimeter.

Two 15-year-old students matching descriptions of the suspects were detained between the G and H buildings on the school's campus at around 10:15 a.m., according to Sgt. Mary Kusmiss of the Berkeley Police Department. Police searched and questioned the individuals, neither of whom had the firearm. Kusmiss said the suspects later disclosed that they had left the weapon wrapped in a jacket near the 2200 block of Haste Street, and police recovered the weapon.

Kusmiss said that police - acting on an anonymous tip that arose during the investigation - also arrested a 16-year-old student who allegedly had both an unloaded firearm and marijuana packaged for sale in his backpack.

In addition to their arrests, Scuderi said all three students will be recommended for expulsion in accordance with the state's education code. He said that he was satisfied with the responses from the high school's community and staff, adding in his statement that "the investigation is quite complex and was complicated by a power outage of nearly an hour."

The Berkeley Unified School District plans to respond to an apparent increase in on-campus firearm incidents. Berkeley High School has now dealt with four reported incidents involving armed students since the beginning of 2011. Outside of the high school earlier this month, a 17-year-old student at Berkeley Technology Academy brought a loaded gun to school to settle a dispute with another B-Tech student.

"The safety of our students, teachers and staff is our paramount concern," said Superintendent Bill Huyett in an email to the Berkeley High School community. "We know that the safety of our students and campuses is of concern to the entire community, and we welcome all suggestions for improving school safety."

Discussion about improving school safety will take place at a special school board meeting on March 30 at 7:30 p.m. Scuderi plans to meet with all high school faculty this week to plan further courses of action.

In his email, Huyett listed additional safety strategies, including publicizing an anonymous telephone tip line, adding two safety officers at the high school and organizing focus groups for students to discuss reasons for bringing guns to school before the high school's spring break begins on April 2.


Jeffrey Buttefield is the lead local schools reporter. Contact him at [email protected]

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