The dust is still settling from a brawl that took place last Monday, March 30, inside Kearny High School.
Police officials reported that six youths – all juvenile boys – were involved in a fistfight during the early afternoon in a hallway outside the guidance office, just off the main entrance to the school.
No reason was given for the skirmish.
Schools Superintendent Patricia Blood told The Observer that the struggle “lasted all of 15 seconds,” before administrators, teachers and school security managed to break it up.
Turns out that one security guard who apparently got in the middle of the scrape, just as it erupted, got roughed up, according to police, who said that the man got punched and kicked and suffered a broken tooth.
Three of the combatants – who were identified by review of footage from a school hallway surveillance camera – were subsequently charged with aggravated assault, said Deputy Police Chief George King. Their names were not disclosed because of their age.
King said the KPD is weighing whether to file separate charges, possibly simple assault and inciting a riot, against the other three brawlers. As of last week, police were trying to find any other video resources such as smart phones that could show different perspectives on the fight.
Sometime after the incident, reports surfaced on social media that the high school was in lockdown mode. Both Blood and King said there was no lockdown – but King said the KPD did bolster police presence at the school in response to postings reportedly threatening retaliation of some kind in connection with the fight.
“We were fielding a lot of calls from parents about these reports and, yes, we did put extra cops outside the school at dismissal time just to quell their concerns. In addition, school personnel locked the gates at the stadium to make sure we didn’t have unwanted people wandering around,” King said.
Normally, the KPD has someone from its Cops In School unit assigned to the high school but, as of last Monday, there was no one detailed there. The officer most recently assigned to that detail was off-duty on sick leave, reportedly because of a knee injury sustained while the officer was chasing a student in an unrelated episode a couple of weeks prior to the fight.
King said the KPD was not immediately notified about the fight but did, eventually, learn of the incident from school authorities later in the day.
When asked whether the fight could have been gang-related, Blood said that, “there is no gang activity in Kearny High” and that “fights are not rampant in the high school.”