Tuesday, January 25, 2011

GARDENA H.S. SHOOTING: Lawyer claims Gardena High victim was left for 40 minutes in nurse's office + Family of boy shot at Gardena High School plans claim against LAUSD

Lawyer claims Gardena High victim was left for 40 minutes in nurse's office

By Larry Altman, Daily Breeze Staff Writer | http://bit.ly/gKZlhd


01/24/2011 07:27:02 PM PST - An attorney for a 15-year-old student wounded in last week's shooting at Gardena High School said Monday that the boy was locked alone in a nurse's office for about 40 minutes, pounding on the door as he feared he was dying.

Joseph Barrett, who represents Trendell Gholar, made the statement Monday as he announced plans to file a claim against the Los Angeles Unified School District, alleging campus officials failed to conduct random weapons checks that could have prevented the gunfire.

"I don't know if they forgot about him," Barrett said. "He was certainly left in there by himself, bleeding from his neck. He was banging on the door and nobody was helping him. That's outrageous."

Barrett said Trendell was passing out during his wait as panic gripped the campus in the aftermath of the accidental shooting.

School district spokeswoman Susan Cox disputed the attorney's story in a statement released Monday afternoon.

"Our preliminary report indicates that after being brought to the nurse's office, Mr. Trendell Gholar was under the supervision of a district employee at all times during the ordeal," the statement said. "At no time was he left alone and (he) remained under the care of a LAUSD employee until paramedics could arrive and render aid."

Trendell, who suffered a wound that entered and exited his neck before striking a 15-year-old female classmate in the head, returned to the hospital over the weekend to have his wound treated, Barrett said.

"He had enormous pain and the pain medicine wasn't good enough," Barrett said. "(We) are doing the best we can to take care of him."

The girl remains hospitalized.

The teenagers were wounded Wednesday when a 17-year-old boy reached into his backpack to get something to eat and accidentally discharged a 9mm handgun. The boy has been charged with bringing the gun onto campus.

After the shooting, Deputy Superintendent John Deasy said high school officials were supposed to conduct random searches for weapons using metal detectors, but the checks did not occur regularly at Gardena.

Barrett said Deasy's statement meant the district has "let the children down." Students, he said, knew that no one would examine their bags.

"If you have a rule, follow the rule. The rule is random weapons checks," Barrett said. "What happened in Gardena over time is that the children have been left to fend for themselves. They know the administration was not checking what they carried into school."

The lack of checks created an environment in school "where the students knew it was anything goes," Barrett said.

"It's sad that it takes that sort of tragedy to get the adults to say, `Yeah, we've got to follow the rules better,"' Barrett said.

The attorney said the claim - a necessary precursor to a lawsuit against government agencies - will be filed later this week. He did not know the amount of money it would seek.

"This is an injustice and we need safer schools," he said. "The mother of the young man has told me she is very concerned about her son returning to Gardena High School. That's very sad you would fear taking your child back to the school."

Barrett, an attorney at the firm founded by famed O.J. Simpson defense lawyer Johnnie Cochran Jr., said he was investigating the boy's statement that a security officer took the boy to the nurse's room and left him there alone. The boy was locked inside and had no cell phone to communicate until rescuers arrived 40 minutes later, he said.

Los Angeles City Fire Department records show the initial call to emergency dispatchers came in at 10:41 a.m. The first rescuer arrived at 10:49 a.m., spokesman Devin Gales said.

It was unclear which patient was transported first, but one student arrived at the hospital at 11:06 a.m. The second rescuer arrived at the school at 10:54 a.m. The second patient arrived at the hospital at 11:22 a.m., or 41 minutes after the initial call.

Cox, the district spokeswoman, said in a statement that Superintendent Ramon Cortines has directed Deasy to "lead a comprehensive review of all the facts and circumstances surrounding the recent events at Gardena High School including, without limitation, the treatment and care of the unfortunate shooting victims."

"Providing a safe and healthy environment for our students is a top priority for the district, so we intend to learn as much as we can from the events to ensure that students are appropriately treated and cared for in emergency situations," the statement said.


Family of boy shot at Gardena High School plans claim against LAUSD

By WIRE SERVICES from L.A. Wave Newspapers | http://bit.ly/i4Doca

(Photo by Gary McCarthy)

Jan 25, 2011 at 1:58 AM PST - An attorney for the family of a 15-year-old boy who was shot in the neck at Gardena High School announced plans Monday to file a legal claim against the Los Angeles Unified School District, alleging school officials failed to make required weapons checks of students.

The shooting occurred around 10:40 a.m. Tuesday at the campus. According to police and prosecutors, a 17-year-old boy brought a gun to school in his backpack, and it discharged inside a classroom when the student reached into the bag to get something to eat.

The bullet struck 15-year-old Trendell Gholar in the neck, then hit a 15- year-old girl in the head. Both survived.

LAUSD Deputy Superintendent John Deasy said last week that metal detectors are supposed to be used to check students randomly on district high school campuses. He conceded that such searches were not being conducted consistently at Gardena High School.

Attorney Joseph Barrett, who represents Gholar's family, said he would be filing a claim — the precursor to a lawsuit — against the district.

"Our feeling is this is a shooting that should never have occurred,'' Barrett said. "As the head of the Los Angeles Unified School District has now admitted, the school district was not doing the random weapons checks that they should have on this campus. As a result, the inevitable occurred.

"You have children nowadays who are being bullied, who feel threatened, and without security on these campuses, our children aren't safe,'' he said.

LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines told CBS2 that there were lapses in procedure, but said he didn't want schools to become prisons.

"If we, both the school district and others, had done our job, it might not have happened,'' Cortines said. "But I'm not, I'm not going to set up a prison-like environment. I think we all have to learn to live in a civil environment, not a prison-like environment.''

Barrett said Gholar — who gave an interview to CBS2 over the weekend — was doing well, but was still having difficulties in his recovery.

"That boy, unfortunately, can't sit up,'' Barrett said. "He's doing well in some ways, but we don't know what the future holds for him. The fact of the matter is, he took a bullet right through the neck, and as we know, another girl took a bullet into the brain.''

Barrett also noted that Gholar staggered outside the classroom after he was shot and was taken to a nurse's office — where he remained for 40 minutes before being taken to a hospital.

"Forty minutes in that room, passing out, and they finally got him out, finally got him to the hospital,'' he said.

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