demetrius rice 25 Years After Deadly LA School Shooting, Experts Again Asking How To Keep Students Safe

In January of 1993, 15-year-old Demetrius Rice was killed when a gun in another student’s backpack accidentally discharged.

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Students, parents and teachers are still in shock after a gun being carried by a middle-schooler went of in an L.A. classroom Thursday morning. Fortunately, no one died, but a day after the incident, people are asking what went wrong and what more can be done to keep something like this from happening again.

Police said Thursday’s shooting at Sal Castro Middle School in Westlake happened when an unregistered gun accidentally went off inside a 12-year-old girl’s backpack. The single bullet tore through the wrist of another girl before striking a boy’s head.

Now, police are investigating how the girl got a hold of the gun, and security experts, along with school officials, are trying to figure out what extra measures the school could have taken to prevent this.

It was the same discussion happening 25 years ago, when in January of 1993, a gun in a Fairfax High School student’s backpack accidentally discharged, killing 15-year-old Demetrius Rice and wounding a classmate.

David Tokovsky was a teacher at Fairfax High when the shooting happened. Now a strategist for Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, he told CBS2 News the district should use this incident as a wake-up call.

“It seems like the board president and vice president oughta be taking this window of opportunity” to provide more resources to schools, including more officers, cameras, social media monitoring and personnel to conduct random searches, said Tokovsky.

Detective Rudy Perez, vice president of the L.A. Unified School Police Association, echoes the concern, asking, “Evil’s gonna hit our schools, but do we have the right resources?”

Perez said that 23 handguns and eight rifles were seized in and around LAUSD school campuses just in the last two years.

Perez was one of the first to arrive at the scene of Thursday’s shooting at Castro Middle School.

“I’ve even been in an ambulance where you realize that a kid’s life is in danger, and the fact that we could have stopped it, and yet we have too much bureaucracy to deal with,” Perez continued as he choked up.

Not everyone is of the same opinion, however. Members of United Teachers Los Angeles and Black Lives Matter met Friday with the LAUSD police union to voice their concern about random searches in schools.

While there seems to be no consensus, everyone does seem to agree that students need to feel and actually be safe in school.

The minor suspect was charged Friday in juvenile court with felony counts of being a minor in possession of a firearm and having a weapon on school grounds. She is scheduled to be arraigned Monday.

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