By Stephen Janis, Special to the AFRO
Questions are being raised after an armed 25-year-old man was able to enter Frederick Douglass High School in Northwest Baltimore and shoot a 56-year-old hall monitor Feb. 8.
The shooting occurred around noon when the assailant walked into the building and was confronted by the victim, who was shot during the confrontation. School police said no students were injured.
The suspect, who has not been identified, is in custody.
The victim is currently being treated at Maryland Shock Trauma and is currently in serious, but stable, condition.
However, the flare up of violence inside a school is raising fresh questions about the safety of the city’s educational facilities.
“No one should be able to enter the building; that goes to the problem I saw all the time,” said Scott Miller Phoenix, a former Baltimore public school teacher who taught for over 30 years in the city.
“These schools are just not secure,” he added. “How could a stranger just walk into a school?”
The shooting comes on the heels of a heated debate over allowing police to have firearms inside school facilities. Legislation that would have authorized officers to carry guns was withdrawn by State Del. Cheryl Glenn after the city school board voted unanimously against it last month.
But, school police union chief Sgt. Clyde Boatwright said the board should reconsider its vote in light of today’s shooting.
“Sadly, we predicted this. We have been telling everyone this has less to do with students and more with people who want to harm them,” he told the AFRO.
“It was clear and evident today this guy intended to kill someone. If it wasn’t for the swift action of Baltimore city police, one of whom was unarmed, it would have been much worse.”
Boatwright said the assailant was confronted by three officers, one of whom was unable to access his weapon—a fact he says should prompt the board to reconsider its vote to keep school police unarmed inside school facilities.
“I think the school board should take a look deep within themselves to decide if keeping officers unarmed is in the best interest of staff and students,” Boatwright said.