Gunmen Chase Youth Into School, Kill Bystander
Jan. 20, 1996
WASHINGTON (AP) _ District of Columbia school officials have been wrestling for some time with conflicting nightmare scenarios: In one, an outsider bursts into an unlocked and unattended door spraying bullets. In the other, students are trapped in a burning building because the doors are locked.
The first came chillingly true Friday when two masked youths chased a third into a school and fatally shot a bystander inside, 14-year-old Damien Blocker.
In the wake of the shooting, District of Columbia School Superintendent Franklin L. Smith said he is considering going to court to challenge the fire code regulation barring locked school doors.
Ronald Parker, principal of the school that includes classes from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, is one of several district principals who have questioned the city fire code regulation requiring that outside doors be left unlocked. They say it hampers them from keeping the schools secure.
Some district schools were evacuated earlier this year by the fire department after an inspector found doors locked from the inside.
The two intruders in Friday's shooting burst into the Winston Education Center through doors reportedly opened for exiting students at the conclusion of classes. School district spokeswoman Beverly Lofton said Saturday that those doors have no handles on the outside and can only be opened from the inside.
Police refused to elaborate on details of the shooting Saturday, saying such questions as how many shots were fired and whether one or both assailants were armed amounted to forensic evidence.
But police said they are seeking two suspects, believed to be 15 or 16 years old. Sgt. Joe Gentile also said police are seeking a car that may have been involved in the suspects' getaway.