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Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Highland's Finest street gang fired a warning shot in the air as he told a group of up to 20 to "back the (expletive) up,"

Teenager, who was being questioned by police Monday, fired a warning shot in the air as he told a group of up to 20 to "back the (expletive) up," according to students who witnessed the melee."They was about to fight and he pulled the gun out of his pants and shot," said one student, who didn't want to be identified."Everybody took off running. Some jumped on buses, ran across the street, all over."Grand Rapids police and Grand Rapids Public Schools Safety Director Larry Johnson said they were trying to determine what preceded the 3:10 p.m. shooting at the 1720 Plainfield Ave. NE school.No one was hurt and police recovered the weapon, Grand Rapids police Capt. Pam Carrier said.Authorities were unsure if the gun was ever in the school, but plan to increase security before, during and after classes Tuesday.Johnson was to convene his staff and discuss options that could include using metal detectors.
"We'll meet and determine how to go forward," he said.
"One gun near the school is too many."
Johnson said security officers did not sense trouble brewing during the day."I don't know if there's anything we could have done differently," he said.Police did not identify the student, pending possible criminal charges.Students said the teen was a member of the Highland's Finest street gang and that his attackers were part of the North Avenue gang.Police would not confirm gang ties played a role in the incident, which played out near a main exit from the school.A woman who lives across Plainfield Avenue said she heard girls yelling and screaming before the shot was fired. She's lived in the neighborhood for 30 years and says the violence and arguing is becoming more common."There's always people going back and forth," she said, declining to be identified.Johnson said the district has not had a complaint of a gunshot on school grounds since an Ottawa Hills student fired a gun in a bathroom three years ago."We can't change perception," he said. "It's not our job to change perception. We try to keep the kids as safe as possible."One 14-year-old freshman stood at a bus stop across from the school as police investigated. He saw the fighting and then heard a "big boom."He said he didn't know the people involved and that students were surprised a dispute escalated to the gunfire. Like security staff, he said there was not heightened tension at school Monday."But people are always talking trash, so you don't know," he said.


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