By Ryan Hopper | firstname.lastname@example.org
A string of fights at Alexandria City High School left multiple students with minor injuries on October 18. A video of the melee, along with publicly available police, EMT and school audio communications, reveal a frantic scene as administrators, police and security tried to restore order.
In the aftermath of the fights, many parents took to social media to express their displeasure with what had happened. A few repeated a rumor that a student was stabbed during the largest brawl, with some saying it was with a pair of scissors.
However, the Times has found no evidence to corroborate these rumors. The worst of the confirmed injuries was a fifteen-year-old student who had difficulty breathing, and no students were taken to the hospital for further treatment, according to the Alexandria Police Department.
“On October 18, the Alexandria Police Department School Resource Officer initiated a call for assistance for the report of a conflict between two students at ACHS,” Tracy Walker, the department’s communications manager, said in an email to the Times. “Officers responded and resolved the matter. Two students reported minor injuries, however, no one was transported for further treatment. There were no weapons. At this time, no arrests have been made related to this incident.”
An ACHS teacher, who requested anonymity, also refuted any rumors of a stabbing, citing information they learned in an after-school staff meeting.
“There was no stabbing. There were students treated for injuries, but no stabbing,” the teacher said.
The first report of a fight, from police scanner recordings available on openmhz.com, indicated a fight was happening at 10:04:07 a.m. in the ACHS third floor east stairwell.
At 10:05:47, multiple students were reported to be running up the main stairwell above the cafeteria.
At 10:06:23, a panicked-sounding security guard said, “Officers! Fight in the stairwell!” … “Middle stairwell! Cafeteria!”
At 10:07:09, school resource officers tried to disperse the crowd on the stairwell.
The first sign of injuries was reported at 10:11:13, when a voice on a dispatch call said, “We need a nurse, second floor C stairwell, please, and we’re [going to] need y’all in other academies to assess injuries.”
At 10:12:06, extra police were requested. About this time, SROs and ACHS administrators began securing the combatants, then, at 10:13:35, a female voice asked dispatch for medical help: “May I have medics to my location for a fifteen-year-old female having trouble breathing?”
Soon afterward, students were reported to be yelling at the librarian in the media center, and a group of male students began fighting in the Titan Garden between the second and third floors. The Titan Garden is an outdoor area where some students choose to eat lunch outside and is next to the staircase where the fighting originated.
Minutes later, at 10:16:25 a.m., an SRO requests police help: “Can you start coming to the high school? We just got a large fight in the cafeteria, and we are trying to control it.” Less than a minute later, the same SRO requests two more police units.
At 10:17:46, a frantic female security officer said, “We have some trouble in the media center hallway. Sounds like it’s a fight. … Stairwell A! Stairwell A!” This was followed at 10:18:33 with a male officer clarifying that a few students had just been in a loud argument.
10:19:51: EMS arrives at ACHS. The student with trouble breathing is revealed to be in the main stairwell above the cafeteria, where the fighting started.
Then, at 10:21:06, APD headquarters said: “Call center had a parent call in who’s on the way to the school. She was told her daughter was stabbed?”
APD and ACHS officials then verified in the following minutes that nobody had been stabbed. The Times tried contacting this parent but did not receive a response. It is unclear who told this parent that her daughter was stabbed.
There are two reports about the severity of injuries from the fight. At 10:30:52, it was determined that a second EMS unit was not needed. However, at 10:33:16, it is mentioned there had been a “traumatic injury at the high school.”
At 10:45:40, an administrator asserted that the school was not under lockdown, but they needed the halls clear.
After roughly 10:45 a.m., things had calmed down. Students who were involved in the altercations were sent home with their parents, with some being treated for minor injuries. Lunch was held in classrooms instead of in the cafeteria, but the rest of the school day went on as scheduled.
When asked for comment by the Times, ACPS referred to its statement sent out on October 18 to parents by ACHS Principal, Alexander Duncan III:
“This morning, there was additional police presence at the Alexandria City High School King Street campus resulting from student altercations. As a precaution, the Alexandria Police Department was called for assistance in the event that additional support might be needed.
School administrators, APD and building security assured the safety of all students and staff in the building after the events. Lunch modifications were made and campus will resume a regular schedule after lunch has been served.
Alexandria City Public Schools is committed to maintaining a safe and secure learning environment for all. When students are involved in altercations on school grounds, ACPS will take immediate and appropriate action to ensure a safe learning environment for the student body and staff. Further, ACPS and school officials will address issues of student conduct and responsibility.”
It remains unclear what caused the fights and why multiple altercations broke out at the same time. When asked by the Times if any students faced disciplinary action for their roles in the fights, ACPS did not comment.