When a 17-year-old Gardena High School student brought a gun to school last week and “accidentally” shot two of his classmates, the chaos that ensued — police influx, lockdown, manhunt — may have overshadowed the most basic needs of one victim.
The bullet flew straight through the neck of 15-year-old Trendell Gholar before hitting the girl sitting next to him square in the head. Last Friday, Gholar's mother announced she plans to slap the Los Angeles Unified School District with a lawsuit for not creating a safe campus environment.
And the total amount his mother asks for — currently being decided upon by the Cochran Firm — may include any medical damages caused by a 40-minute delay in medical care for the boy.
Though Gholar was released from the hospital in stable condition after only a couple days, Cochran Firm attorney Joseph M. Barrett says complications may still arise from what Gholar alleges was a fumbled non-attempt to get him emergency care.
The boy told KCAL-TV on Friday about his experience immediately after the shooting. According to the Associated Press:
Gholar said he was able to walk outside and a school security guard walked him to the nurse's office. He said he was in the locked office, frightened and alone for about 40 minutes, before paramedics came and took him to the hospital.
“I started banging, banging on the wall cause I was scared, you know, I felt blood and that's when I was getting unconscious,” he said.
Could that failure to tend to the victim in the crime's immediate bloody aftermath have future ramifications for the Los Angeles teen?
“It's too early to tell, as far as what the medical assessment is going to be,” says Barrett. “We have to talk to doctors.”
But the attorney describes Gohlar as having been literally locked in the nurse's office, bleeding from the neck, under strict orders not to go anywhere. He says the 15-year-old was passing in and out of consciousness during the ordeal.
“He had no cell phone — he had nobody around, and he just was in shock,” says Barrett. Since then, he continues, the boy “has had quite a struggle. He's been to the hospital twice in the last few days.”
Barrett explains to the Weekly that the lawsuit will focus on the unsafe atmosphere that he believes school officials allowed to flourish at Gardena High, far before the gunshots were fired. He sites a schoolyard riot at Gardena a few months back, as well as Facebook murmurings that the 17-year-old shooter may have been the target of unregulated bullying.
“If you leave the children to fend for themselves, then something like this is possible,” he says.
Here's a student-loaded video from September:
And another from a little over one year ago:
Gardena High and LAUSD officials maintain that random weapon checks are conducted in accordance to policy, but Barrett believes “they did not provide a sufficiently safe environment on the campus, and as a result, somebody felt free to bring a gun on campus.”
Once lawyers have decided how much the plaintiff will initially ask for — “and we'll put a number down that's large, just to make sure we're being fair” — LAUSD will have 45 days to respond. Assuming the district rejects it, Gholar's case will then go to court.
Do you attend Gardena High? Do you feel LAUSD's lack of safe-school enforcement is to blame in last week's shooting? Let us know.