RPS board troubled by gun incident at John Marshall

Posted at 10:58 PM, Feb 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-23 19:58:19-05

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR)- Richmond School Board members will meet with John Marshall parents at the school Tuesday night.

The hot topic: how not to repeat what happened Friday.

18-year-old Danzall Seward normally catches the bus at John Marshall to go to a performing arts school in the East End.  Instead, he was arrested Friday for the drama that played out inside John Marshall High.

Police say Seward drew a weapon after an altercation then ran away from the school. They say they were able to find the teen and the gun about three blocks away.

“It places our students, faculty, administration at risk of injury,” said Richmond School Board Chairman Jeffrey Bourne.  “It's our responsibility to keep the kids safe.  So, of course, incidents like this are emotionally charged."

“I’m thankful no one was hurt and no shots were fired during what was a very serious situation this morning,” Richmond Police Chief Ray J. Tarasovic said. “I’m also pleased our joint response with Richmond Public Schools resulted in a quick arrest and the rapid return of John Marshall High School to its intended educational purpose.”

Because of Friday’s bad weather, students were brought inside, out of the elements, bypassing metal detectors and heading straight to class.

“They told us to go straight to class,” said student Nactelre Johnson.  “There was a lot of police."

School leaders say with the situation is still being investigated, and in hindsight maybe that wasn't the best idea, so they will solicit suggestions from parents on Tuesday to make sure a breach this size doesn't happen again.

“We've got to find the right balance to protect the safety of all of our children," said Bourne.

That balance may come with more metal detectors, guards and a price tag according to Bourne, but before he even mentions it to the mayor, he wants to discuss other options.

“Perhaps the room can be pushed back and the metal detectors moved back during inclement weather so our security entrance can be under a covered roof," Bourne said.

The meeting will take place at 6:30 at John Marshall High Tuesday night.  Bourne says they are encouraging parents to help them find the right strategy to solve what they call a serious problem.