AP NEWS

10 Westhill students arrested after riot injures cop, teacher

April 16, 2019

STAMFORD — Ten students have been charged after a food fight turned riot at Westhill High School Friday.

The Stamford Police Department said the incident, which took place around 1:30 p.m. April 12, resulted in one school resource officer getting seriously injured and a teacher being trampled.

Officer Anna Edwards, one of the SROs at the school, was struck in the head with a full can of soda, causing a cut and concussion. She was transported to the Stamford Hospital emergency room. An unidentified Westhill High School teacher was also injured during the incident as she was “trampled by a mass of students,” according to police.

Stamford Public Schools Superintendent Earl Kim said some students had been planning the food fight earlier in the week. Police said the planned fight was also shared on social media prior to Friday.

Once the Westhill administration caught wind of the plan, they met with students to dissuade them from participating in the food fight, Kim said.

He said the effort mostly worked, as students did not start a fight in the cafeteria. However, in the courtyard near the cafeteria, where students tend to congregate, some students began to throw objects. Kim said only about eight or nine students participated.

According to police, however, “hundreds of students” ran out of the school, with “many” throwing eggs, water and soda cans.

The SROs, along with school security and staff, were unable to get the crowd under control, which resulted in more officers being called, police said. In all, about 24 officers arrived on scene.

“This is not the learning environment we expect and demand for our children in this city,” Stamford Police said in a press release.

Officers spent hours investigating the incident using security video, according to police.

Over the weekend, a 10-second video circulated on social media in which three officers are seen taking a student to the ground. The Stamford Advocate has not been able to independently confirm the video’s authenticity.

The students — ranging from age 15 to 17 — face charges of rioting in the first degree, breach of peace, reckless endangerment, and assault on a police officer, which is a felony. The students are all scheduled to appear in juvenile court. Because of their ages their identities were not released.

Westhill Principal Michael Rinaldi has planned meetings with teachers and students at the beginning of next week to address the incident.

Kim said food fights were a sort of tradition at the school in the past, but not since he was named superintendent about two years ago.

“We don’t expect it to catch on,” he said.

He called the Friday incident an “ugly and disappointing situation.”

“We know our students are much better than that,” the superintendent said.

Judy Klym, co-president of the Westhill Parent Teacher Student Organization, said she was content with how the situation was handled.

“It was a food fight that got a little out of control,” she said.

“The administration and faculty, they were completely on top of it,” she said. “They did everything they could to get everyone under control.”

ignacio.laguarda@stamfordadvocate.com