Security eyed after shootings outside York High football game
The shooting of two men Friday night outside William Penn High School's season-opening football game has prompted discussions among officials about to how to improve security at the events.
"I know we'll tighten up things, that's a given," York City School Board President Margie Orr said Saturday.
Friday's double shooting took place toward the end of the game against J.P. McCaskey High School of Lancaster. York City Police officers were dispatched to Small Athletic Field at 9:34 p.m. for a reported shooting, according to a news release.
The officers found two victims, Darius Allen, 23, of York City, and Antwan Jackson, 20, of the York area. Allen was struck once in the abdomen and Jackson was struck once in the back. The incident resulted in a 20-minute lockdown with the 1,000-plus family, friends and fans in attendance were asked to remain inside the stadium until the all-clear was given.
The shootings were the result of a verbal dispute that started inside the stadium during the game and continued outside the stadium after the participants were removed by York City School District police officers, according to the release. So far no suspects have been identified and no arrests have been made.
Resolved: A statement released by the school district Saturday vowed the district would remain resolved.
"We may be rattled. We may be angry. We may be disappointed. But we will not allow the actions of a few to define the character of our Bearcat family. We will not allow the poor choices of a few to undermine our commitment to student achievement – in the classroom or on the football field," the statement reads.
The statement went on to say the remainder of the football team's games will be played, but conversations with all parties involved are still ongoing. Changes to game times are a possibility, the statement said.
Additionally, several officials, including those from the school board and the city's police department as well as the mayor, have all gone on record saying a conversation needs to be had about how to improve security at local high school games.
While exactly what that might look like remains to be seen, one thing is certain as far as the school board is concerned: District police officers will still not be armed.
“They’re not going to have guns, that’s a given fact,” Orr said.
Going forward: On Saturday, Mayor Kim Bracey said the district is still going over the situation and it was too early to say what exactly it and the city are going to do.
“We actually won’t know anything as far as the future direction ... until Monday at the earliest,” Bracey said.
York City Police Chief Wes Kahley said Saturday his department would be having conversations with school officials to see what can be done. He said his officers do and will continue to assist school district officers whenever necessary.
"We want to stand ready to assist them however we can," the chief said.
But, because the lot where the men were shot is private property owned by the school, the school district police have jurisdiction.
Reaction: York City Council President Carol Hill-Evans said the shootings were a setback against fighting the perception of violence in the city, but she added that she is not ready to give up in that regard.
"While it's a setback, it's not the end of it, at least not for me," she said.
She said she would support the city police assisting the school police, if the school police felt it was necessary.
"If the city police are needed, then by all means, be there," she said.
Bracey, who attended the game but left shortly after halftime, stressed that the city is looking into improvements for the next home football game.
“I need people to know we are going to work with the district to ensure the best safe environment that could possibly be in place,” she said.
2010: Friday's shooting was the first violent incident during a game since 2010, when staff had to calm down some altercations during the first home game of the football season, including one between a female student and a female graduate and then another with a larger group of people.
Current York City School District Police Chief Michael Muldrow, who six years ago served as head of security for the district, asked for assistance from the school board to help improve security at the games after the 2010 incident. Muldrow said at that time the school district police were not fully equipped to deal with such large-scale incidents.
Muldrow, speaking during a Sept. 13, 2010, school board meeting, said the district — fearing a possible altercation based on information they received before the game — had tried to beef up security at the last minute with city and even state police, but no officers were immediately available.
There were brief moments where people thought the fight between the females involved a knife, and the near-fight with the group potentially could have involved weapons, too, he continued. Neither turned out to be the case, and injuries were not reported.
"Nobody on the district level was equipped to respond to any of those issues, but we do anyway," he said at the time.
Players/students: Athletic director Ron Coursey said he is disappointed in the way the incident transpired and gave the team the day off Saturday. Coursey praised Superintendent Eric Holmes and the school police for handling the event.
Coursey said the first reaction of the players was locating their loved ones, but once they found out where they were, the team was able to process the situation better.
"Obviously they were disappointed the situation happened, just like everybody else, but I thought our kids did a tremendous job of setting an example for their peers in the crowd and just everybody else that was in the stadium," Coursey said.
York Dispatch Sports Reporter Patrick Strohecker contributed to this report.