LOS ANGELES (FOX 11) - The Los Angeles Unified School District has confirmed that a child at Hollenbeck Middle School in Boyle Heights was shot in the jaw on August 27.
The school district publicly acknowledged the shooting for the first time on Tuesday, September 10th.
The district confirmed the shooting after it was disclosed at a Tuesday school board meeting by Gil Gamez, the head of the school police officers union. The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating, a department spokesman said.
After speaking to board members School Police Chief Steven Zipperman released a statement saying “A student was standing in line at nutrition/lunch, when another student standing behind him mentioned he was bleeding near the ear/jaw area,'' Zipperman wrote to the board. “`The student apparently also felt `something' strike him.''
The school nurse treated the student but “it was still unknown what caused the bleeding,'' Zipperman's report said. “At the time of this incident, no other persons, both students and adults nearby, heard or saw anything unusual,'' Zipperman noted. The boy's mother took him to a hospital, Gamez said and is recovering.
Hollenbeck Principal Elsa Bolado had sent out brief phone and email messages to parents saying “there was an incident outside the school that caused a student at Hollenbeck to be injured. Be assured that the student is well and all of our students are safe.''
The principal offered a revised version of events in a message sent out Tuesday night, after the disclosures by Gamez.
“We have received further information that the injury appears to be a result of an `off-campus' discharge of a firearm from an unknown location or person, whereby the projectile came to rest within the campus perimeter, striking a student,'' the principal said. “As previously mentioned, the injured student is recovering and has been receiving the necessary support.''
Hollenbeck is a large campus, occupying about two blocks atop a short hill, and serves about 1,000 students.
The last time a student was injured by a bullet at a Los Angeles middle school was Feb. 1, 2018, after the apparently accidental discharge of a gun in a student's backpack at Salvador Castro Middle School west of downtown.
Gamez raised the issue of the Hollenbeck shooting to argue for more funding for school police officers on campus. He said each middle school used to have an assigned officer. Now an officer will patrol the area around two or three middle schools, he said.
There also are activists, including students and civil rights organizations, who are calling for fewer officers and less policing on campus.
Their faction gained ground last year when the school board agreed to stop the random searches of students on some campuses. The activists called the practice dehumanizing and ineffective.
Defenders of the searches, including McKenna and Gamez, said the practice had deterrent value, making students less likely to bring a weapon on campus.