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San Francisco police assign more officers to tense schools after shooting incident

By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service

June 28, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - At least three San Francisco police officers were within two blocks of a shooting Tuesday afternoon that sent a 16-year-old high school student to the hospital with a critical wound to the back, police announced today at a midday news conference.

Lt. Colleen Fatooh, head of the school resource officer program, said an officer on foot patrol had just passed 16th and Church streets where the shooting occurred, and two more officers were stationed two blocks away at a San Francisco Municipal Railway stop just outside Mission High School.

The beefed-up patrol was the result of a call from Principal Kevin Truitt on Monday, reporting a tense atmosphere on campus.

"Students got the feeling that something was just not right," Fatooh said. "We were told that tensions were high.''

But Orla O'Keeffe, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Unified School District, denied that the tension was the result of students from all over the district attending an unfamiliar school for the summer session.

The boy who was shot normally attends Jack O'Connell High School during the fall and spring semesters, but he was attending Mission High School for the summer, O'Keeffe said.

"We've had this system for at least a couple of years without any problems. I don't have any evidence to suggest that it is causing problems," O'Keefe said.

The unidentified victim was waiting in a crowd of people on a Muni island around 1 p.m. when the suspect, when possibly another Mission High School student shot into the crowd and struck the victim in the back.

He was immediately taken to General Hospital where he is listed in critical condition, according to police.

According to Trish Bascom, chief of support and operations for the school district, the victim was not a problem student.

"He was attending class regularly and has had no behavior problems in summer school ... or at O'Connell," Bascom said.

Police said riders on a Muni J-Church train in the area witnessed the shooting, and a surveillance camera on the train is helping the ongoing investigation.

San Francisco police Sgt. Neville Gittens described the suspect as a black male, 6-foot 1-inches tall, with braids or dreads colored orange at the tips. He was wearing a brown plaid shirt and a black backpack at the time.

School officials are trying to calm tensions within the eight high schools, seven middle schools and 10 elementary schools offering summer sessions, according to O'Keeffe.

Fatooh said the department will assign more officers to the area as well as other schools throughout the city. Child Crisis and the school district's Health Programs Department are providing counseling for students on an as-needed basis, according to the district.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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