Las Vegas Sun

November 21, 2018

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Metal detectors considered after rash of school gun incidents

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Steve Marcus

Students and parents wait outside Canyon Springs High School in North Las Vegas after a fatal shooting at a school ball field Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. School was out at the time of the shooting but many students were taking part in after-school activities, police said. One person was killed.

Jesus. F. Jara

Jesus. F. Jara

With seven gun-related incidents on school grounds this year, including the fatal shooting of a high school student Tuesday in North Las Vegas, officials are considering additional safety measures such as metal detectors, officials said.

“It’s clear there is a problem,” Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara said. “It’s not our problem alone; it’s a national problem.”

Jara was joined by five School District officials at a news conference today to elaborate on safety protocols in wake of Tuesday’s deadly shooting outside Canyon Springs High School.

North Las Vegas Police said an 18-year-old student was shot to death near the school’s baseball field. The victim had not been publicly identified as of this afternoon, and police said no arrests have been made.

The number of gun-related incidents reported this year — a month into the new school year — is up from two during the same period last year, School District Police Capt. Roberto Morales said.

Just this morning, a 17-year old student at Desert Rose High School was arrested after being found with a 9 mm handgun, officials said.

Jara said School District leaders will explore additional safety measures — including metal detectors to screen students entering schools and establishing a School District Police gang unit — during a conference Thursday with all 49 of the district’s high school principals.

Jara called gun violence “a community issue” and said the School District alone cannot solve the problem. “My real concern is making sure my 320,000 children are free to learn in a safe environment,” he said.

School District Police Chief Jim Ketsaa said guns confiscated at school have often been used in other crimes, but students caught with guns on campus normally don’t cooperate with authorities.

He said officers scour students’ social media accounts, where they communicate more freely, to try to get more information.

He urged parents to be aware of what their children are up to.“It’s about being aware, being responsible, being visible and being smart,” Ketsaa said.

In response to Tuesday’s fatal shooting, Jara said he’ll be establishing a gun safety advisory group of principals, teachers, students and faith-based leaders, among others, to suggest policy changes. He’ll present the recommendations to the School Board on Dec. 1.

School Board member Carolyn Edwards said Safe Voice Nevada, a program to encourage students to report campus crimes, has generated more than 700 tips since the beginning of August. Some of those tips have led to arrests.

Those who spot suspicious or illegal activity on campus, including gun possession, drugs and even bullying, can report them at 833-216-7233, online at SafeVoiceNV.org or via the Safe Voice app.

Here is a list of gun-related incidents on school property since classes resumed Aug. 14:

• Aug. 14 — Acting on a tip, police found a student at Green Valley High School in possession of a loaded .40-caliber handgun, authorities said. The student was arrested.

• Aug. 22 – A 16-year-old Centennial High School student was removed from class after police found a loaded 9 mm handgun in his backpack, officials said.

• Aug. 28 — A random check by Nevada Juvenile Parole and Probation on a Sierra Vista High School student on parole led to the discovery of a .45-caliber handgun, authorities said. The student was arrested.

• Aug. 31 — A woman who pulled a gun to break up a fight between two students at Chaparral High School was arrested, authorities said. The woman was related to one of the students involved in the fight, authorities said.

• Sept. 5 — A student at Mojave High School was arrested, officials said.

• Sept. 11 — An 18-year-old student was fatally shot near a baseball field at Canyon Springs High School in North Las Vegas, authorities said.

• Sept. 12 — A 17-year-old student at Desert Rose High School was found with a 9 mm handgun and arrested, authorities said.