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Proposal: Move York High games to Saturday at noon
Moving William Penn High School football games to Saturday afternoons was at the top of a list of proposed changes for York City Schools in the wake of Friday night's shooting in the parking lot at Small Athletic Field.
Security at school sporting events after the incident in the fourth quarter of York High's first home game of the 2016-17 high school football season was the main topic at Monday's York City school board meeting.
Superintendent Eric Holmes proposed a list of measures discussed before the board meeting in talks with school district, city and law-enforcement officials. At the top of the list was moving all future home games from 7 p.m. on Friday nights to noon on Saturdays.
The school board will vote on the measures at its next meeting, Wednesday, Sept. 21.
Holmes also said security cameras, which were installed at Small Field before the shooting, were instrumental in capturing much of what took place during Friday's shooting and will be added to. A monitoring station, which Holmes called a "camera room," also was on the list of proposed security enhancements, as was beefing up the security staff from 16 school police and faculty members to 26, adding contracted security personnel.
Holmes said a cost analysis should be ready for the board by Friday.
School district police Chief Michael Muldrow said the decision as to who will be contracted to provide additional, armed security at future games is still being considered.
"We are still logistically working out who we are going to be partnering with," Muldrow said.
Victims: Two men, Darius Allen, 23, of York City, and Antwan Jackson, 20, of the York area were shot in the parking lot outside Small Athletic Field after being removed from the game by security, according to a news release issued by the York City Police Department.
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 asked to remain inside the stadium until the all-clear was given.
As of Monday, York City Police had not given a motive for the shooting beyond a verbal argument that began inside the stadium. No arrests have been made.
As a matter of policy, York City School District Police do not carry firearms. Board president Margie Orr has said that will not change.
Still, despite being unarmed, Muldrow said his officers continued to "pursue and attack" the shooters under a barrage of gunfire Friday night.
"There were a lot of rounds flying around the parking lot," he said. "There was a lot of gunfire exchanged that night."
Holmes lauded the efforts of the school district police, the York City Police Department and the additional county law-enforcement agencies that responded to the shooting.
He said the facility was locked down and the gates were closed, preventing anyone from leaving or entering, and people standing outside the gate were ushered in for their safety. The game was suspended and the teams taken off the field, and announcements were made throughout the incident to keep the crowd informed, he said.
The game was called and everyone sent home once the situation was under control.
"Members of our security force, along with the York City Police Department, reviewed video footage from the parking lot," Holmes said. "We had also interviewed some witnesses to the initial incident," he added.
The names of those witnesses were handed over to the police.
"The members of the York City School Police Department did a fantastic job of making sure that everyone in the stadium complex was safe, as well as making sure that the crowd remained as calm as you could have, for over 1,000 people," Holmes said.
Saturday games: The decision to propose moving future William Penn football games from under the Friday night lights to Saturdays at noon was not taken lightly, Holmes said. He invited York City Athletic Director Ron Coursey to inform the board of the discussions he had with other area athletic directors, whose schools were scheduled to travel to York City for night games.
Coursey said his counterparts in those districts expressed love, support and remorse for what happened at Friday night's game.
"They also expressed some concerns," he added.
In the end, each of the other ADs suggested what was already being discussed, the moving of games to Saturday afternoons, where daylight would make more visible any goings-on that present a safety concern.
He said the students, specifically the football team, had some questions about what would happen going forward, but none were discouraged from playing.
Many were upset that the game was called by the refs before it concluded, he said.
"They're ready to get back on the field," Coursey said.
Added measures: In addition to rescheduling the games and the added security cameras, monitoring station and security personnel, Holmes said the district will continue to employ its screening process, complete with metal detectors, and bag-checking procedures going forward.
Muldrow said the additional security staff would be armed and stationed in the parking lot to be a visible deterrent to future violence. Board member Juanita Kirkland expressed concern at the notion of armed security in the area so close to students and suggested community volunteers, unarmed, be asked to attend the games instead.
Muldrow said despite their willingness and heart to help, a citizen brigade would represent a liability to the school board should anyone be injured during a future incident.
He reiterated that his officers were "ducking bullets" Friday night.
"But we were wearing body armor," he said.
Following the portion of the meeting focusing on Friday's events, Muldrow spoke to media outside the board room. He declined to answer specific questions about the number of shooters or shots fired during the incident.
"I can't really answer that, not wanting to compromise the York City Police Department's investigation," he said. He did say, however, that the police investigation is going "very well" and is being aided by security camera footage from the cameras already in place, and by witnesses who have been willing to come forward and shared with investigators what they saw leading up to and during the incident.
Here's the proposed revised schedule for York High home football games for the rest of the season. Games will begin at noon.
- York High vs. Red Lion, Sept. 24.
- York High vs. Spring Grove, Oct. 8.
- York High vs. Northeastern (homecoming), Oct. 15.
- York High vs. New Oxford, Oct. 24.