By Bonnie Culverhouse
A fight that broke out at during school at Minden High Friday likely led to the gunshot scare during the scrimmage that night, according to Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper.
“One male juvenile that was involved (in the fight) is on the football team,” Cropper said. “He was detained and brought to the PD because he was involved.”
Cropper said once School Resource Officer Lt. Tokia Whiting-Harrison viewed video of the fight, it was determined the young man was “totally blindsided.”
“He wasn’t even involved and then someone came up and hit him from behind,” the chief said. “Once we realized he was just defending himself, he was released. He was not arrested.”
The chief said Officer Whiting-Harrison called immediately for back-up when the fight began, and all of his available officers were on the scene to help. No weapons were involved.
Thanks to a state-of-the-art camera system at the school, the other juveniles – around 8 – in the fight were identified and arrested, said the chief.
“I’m not sure how this translated to what happened Friday night, but it’s my understanding a lot of kids were saying he was let go because he played on the football team, and he was getting preferential treatment,” Cropper said. “But that had nothing to do with it. He was released because he wasn’t an initiator. He was defending himself.”
The issue was heightened when some students learned the young man would be allowed to participate in the scrimmage Friday.
“The same people who were upset about the fact that he was not arrested got really agitated because he was going to be allowed to play ball Friday night,” Cropper said. “That’s how it spilled over to the football game.”
Rumors were of shots fired at the game, however, that was never corroborated. The scrimmage between Minden and Benton was suspended.
Posts on social media from the weekend and Monday exacerbated the issue, and Cropper and several officers were on-hand at the school Monday morning when the first bell rang.
“Some of them (posts) were saying because some of those kids were going to be back in school today, they were going to shoot up the outside of the school,” he said. “There were no issues at all. But, as I understand it, a lot of these issues of anger are directed toward the young man because he was not arrested. His family had read the same posts and kept him home from school today.”
Cropper said the others who were arrested were released to their parents.
“We have no place to put juveniles,” he added. “I don’t know what the answer is.”
MHS principal Becky Wilson, in a message to parents, said that while the school cannot violate the privacies of students, she wants parents to know that action has been taken and “your children’s safety is our number one priority.”
“We want to partner with you to give our students the best high school experience they can have,” the message concluded. “We are One Team, One Family, One Tide.”
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