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Few Decry 'Terrorism' Of School Bus Shooting

May 9, 2009 — Undaunted by a surprisingly low turnout at a meeting to discuss the shooting of an elementary school student, parents and officials shared their feelings and commitment to end the violence that has hit them close to home.
Wednesday afternoon's shooting of a fourth grader on a school bus, just a block and a half away from the school's gate, left many of the community in shock, but brought only about 40 parents, community members, school officials, the police and counselors to a Saturday morning meeting in the E. Benjamin Oliver Elementary school cafeteria. The meeting gave the audience a chance to air their feelings and get strategies for coping after the incident.
Saturday's low turnout galvanized some organizers who said that the numbers were comparable to scouts who take a look at the situation before brining in the infantry.
Others were troubled, including the mother of one of the other 22 children riding the bus.
"I was sad that I was the only parent here [of all the kids riding the bus]," Jacqueline Claxton said.
Claxton, the mother of a kindergartener was one of the parents and children from the bus who were reunited in the school's library Wednesday afternoon and she recalled that the emotion in the room was overpowering.
"When I saw my son — I can't even put into words how overwhelmed I was," Claxton said. "I was thankful to God that He protected my son."
The meeting was the result of a collaborative effort between a number of agencies and the school, the VIPD and the school district. It is a community effort to bring relief, but also to create a plan of action, according to social worker Dilsa Capdeville of Kidscope, a child advocacy group.
"Because of the amount of violence you become numb," she said. "This instance has brought it too close to home, but I am still waiting to see the level of outrage that should have come along with this."
Emphasizing that the shooting did not occur on school property, school officials reassured parents that the students were safe in the school. Many of the parents said that their children are now frightened to come to school.
Each of the 40-some attendees were given a chance to speak at the meeting. Many in the group talked of being in shock, feeling helpless and angry following the shooting.
"I think people are really in shock, but they are also in that in-between place of disbelief," Capdeville said. "[The parents are saying] 'I can't believe this happened' and when people are in that place it takes a lot to mobilize them. But these people came out and are committed and I think today is a clear indication that at the next meeting the parking lot will be full."
School psychologist Patricia C. Browne told parents that their children might feel anxious, need extra attention. She said that they might not want to be alone and that other behaviors, like nightmares and bed-wetting, could be the result of anxiety brought forth by the incident.
Alvaris Julien, a police officer with the Virgin Islands Police Department's school security unit, showed parents ways to identify suspects and gang symbols.
Julien also spoke about his own feelings on the shooting incident, which he responded to, and where, upon arrival he found chaos.
Like many of the parents, Julien described the range of emotions that he experienced when arriving on the scene, remembering vividly the expression on the teacher's faces.
"My first sense was of almost hopelessness," Julien said. "That everyone [on the bus] didn't die with the amount of shots — it was a miracle." Up to 20 bullet shells were found following the incident, according to school personnel.
Many others also expressed anger that a student was shot, but at the same time thankful that more children were not hurt, including school principal Lydia Simmonds-Lettsome.
"I feel violated," Clifton Boyd, the school's literacy director,said, comparing the incident to the 9/11 attacks. "We just had a terrorist situation happen here and to an innocent child. If this isn't terrorism, what is?"
The victim underwent surgery at noon on Saturday in a hospital in Puerto Rico. The bullet lodged near his spine, according to school officials. When the surgery was scheduled to start, a prayer was offered at the meeting on his behalf.
The VIPD is investigating the shooting, according to public information officer Melody Rames. "Police are following all leads and interviewing witnesses," she said.
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May 9, 2009 -- Undaunted by a surprisingly low turnout at a meeting to discuss the shooting of an elementary school student, parents and officials shared their feelings and commitment to end the violence that has hit them close to home.
Wednesday afternoon's shooting of a fourth grader on a school bus, just a block and a half away from the school's gate, left many of the community in shock, but brought only about 40 parents, community members, school officials, the police and counselors to a Saturday morning meeting in the E. Benjamin Oliver Elementary school cafeteria. The meeting gave the audience a chance to air their feelings and get strategies for coping after the incident.
Saturday's low turnout galvanized some organizers who said that the numbers were comparable to scouts who take a look at the situation before brining in the infantry.
Others were troubled, including the mother of one of the other 22 children riding the bus.
"I was sad that I was the only parent here [of all the kids riding the bus]," Jacqueline Claxton said.
Claxton, the mother of a kindergartener was one of the parents and children from the bus who were reunited in the school's library Wednesday afternoon and she recalled that the emotion in the room was overpowering.
"When I saw my son -- I can't even put into words how overwhelmed I was," Claxton said. "I was thankful to God that He protected my son."
The meeting was the result of a collaborative effort between a number of agencies and the school, the VIPD and the school district. It is a community effort to bring relief, but also to create a plan of action, according to social worker Dilsa Capdeville of Kidscope, a child advocacy group.
"Because of the amount of violence you become numb," she said. "This instance has brought it too close to home, but I am still waiting to see the level of outrage that should have come along with this."
Emphasizing that the shooting did not occur on school property, school officials reassured parents that the students were safe in the school. Many of the parents said that their children are now frightened to come to school.
Each of the 40-some attendees were given a chance to speak at the meeting. Many in the group talked of being in shock, feeling helpless and angry following the shooting.
"I think people are really in shock, but they are also in that in-between place of disbelief," Capdeville said. "[The parents are saying] 'I can't believe this happened' and when people are in that place it takes a lot to mobilize them. But these people came out and are committed and I think today is a clear indication that at the next meeting the parking lot will be full."
School psychologist Patricia C. Browne told parents that their children might feel anxious, need extra attention. She said that they might not want to be alone and that other behaviors, like nightmares and bed-wetting, could be the result of anxiety brought forth by the incident.
Alvaris Julien, a police officer with the Virgin Islands Police Department's school security unit, showed parents ways to identify suspects and gang symbols.
Julien also spoke about his own feelings on the shooting incident, which he responded to, and where, upon arrival he found chaos.
Like many of the parents, Julien described the range of emotions that he experienced when arriving on the scene, remembering vividly the expression on the teacher's faces.
"My first sense was of almost hopelessness," Julien said. "That everyone [on the bus] didn't die with the amount of shots -- it was a miracle." Up to 20 bullet shells were found following the incident, according to school personnel.
Many others also expressed anger that a student was shot, but at the same time thankful that more children were not hurt, including school principal Lydia Simmonds-Lettsome.
"I feel violated," Clifton Boyd, the school's literacy director,said, comparing the incident to the 9/11 attacks. "We just had a terrorist situation happen here and to an innocent child. If this isn't terrorism, what is?"
The victim underwent surgery at noon on Saturday in a hospital in Puerto Rico. The bullet lodged near his spine, according to school officials. When the surgery was scheduled to start, a prayer was offered at the meeting on his behalf.
The VIPD is investigating the shooting, according to public information officer Melody Rames. "Police are following all leads and interviewing witnesses," she said.
Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.