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Crime

South L.A. Middle-Schoolers Try to Settle Argument With Knife vs. Gun Standoff in English Class

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Thu, Jan 26, 2012 at 2:30 PM

click to enlarge Too many video games?
  • Too many video games?
Oh jeez. SoCal K-12ers are so hard-core these days. Yesterday's little situation in South L.A. almost outdoes the Riverside fourth-grader who filed a restraining order against a classmate with a knife.

KFI radio broke the news that, just before school let out, two seventh-graders from Samuel Gompers Middle School tried to settle their feud the old-fashioned way -- with a dramatic classroom duel.

The campus happens to be one of those adopted by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, under his Partnership for L.A. Schools. (Sorry, Mayor V ... the bad press just don't stop.) A spokesman for the partnership, Patrick Sinclair, tells us that the fight began around 2:45 p.m., during 7th period.

"Two male students became engaged in an argument in the class," says Sinclair. "The argument escalated, and one student pulled a knife out. And then another student reached into a backpack and pulled out a gun."

Kind of an uneven fight, if you ask us. And strangely, investigators later determined that the backpack -- and the gun -- belonged not to the dueler but to a third student in the class. (Seriously, what is going on down at Samuel Gompers Middle School?)

The standoff then dissolved as quickly as it began: "As they pulled out weapons, the rest of the students in the classroom panicked and fled the room," says Sinclair. At which point the stander-offers likewise panicked and stuffed their weapons back where they found them -- the knife back on knife guy's person and the gun "back in the backpack" -- and fled the room with the rest of the kids.

We can only imagine the chaos at Gompers as an overcrowded English classroom emptied, screaming, into the hallway.

Still, Sinclair says that because the response by school police was "so contained, and dealt with [it] very rapidly ... most people here aren't aware of it."

Students are being sent home today with a letter explaining what happened. Gompers' principal also plans to make a robo-call to parents.

click to enlarge "Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa gives a speech at Samuel Gompers Middle School." - CONTACTMUSIC.COM
  • contactmusic.com
  • "Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa gives a speech at Samuel Gompers Middle School."
And as for those three hooligans (the one with the knife, the one with the gun and the one who brought the gun to school in his backpack): All were arrested amid their mass exodus from the English classroom by school police and turned over to the LAPD.

Though Sinclair tells us that at least one "additional full-time" police officer was patrolling campus today, KFI is a bit more skeptical of the school's soft response:

School officials said security had been increased but there were no plans to begin using metal detectors or to conduct searches of school bags.

"We are a school, we are not going to create a police state around here," said Gompers Principal Traci Gholar.

Mayor Villaraigosa said the number of arrests and incidents of crime on the campus had dropped since the Partnership for L.A. Schools took over from the LAUSD.

"We will not tolerate coming on campus with a gun or a knife," he said, adding the three boys would be expelled.

Writes one parent in a GreatSchools.org review of Gompers: "The school doesn't do nearly enough to ensure their students' safety and discipline those students when they need it. ... Frequently, the administration turns a blind eye to the bad students, thus allowing them to get away with whatever."

Relevant, perhaps, to yesterday's Wild West whirlwind?

[@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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