Commencement shooting problem of ‘community,’ not school

Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 1:00am

A fatal shooting at a Maplewood High School graduation ceremony had more to do with the “community” than with the school, according to Ralph Thompson, assistant superintendent of student services for Metro schools.

“We all know things like this take place in the malls. They take place in churches,” Thompson said Tuesday. “This was not a school issue. It was not a Tennessee State University issue. It was not a Maplewood issue. It was not a Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools issue. Clearly this was a community issue.”

On Monday night, 21-year-old Andreus Taylor was shot in the face and killed at a Maplewood commencement ceremony, held at TSU’s Gentry Center.

In response to the shooting, security was stepped up at Tuesday night’s Pearl-Cohn High graduation, which also was held at Gentry Center. The final MNPS graduation ceremony to take place at the facility this year, the commencement for White’s Creek High, will also include the ramped-up measures.

Both the Pearl-Cohn and White’s Creek ceremonies were slated, as of Tuesday afternoon, to be patrolled by about 25 law enforcement officers, including TSU police and Metro plainclothes and flex-unit officers, Thompson said.

All attendees at both ceremonies were slated to be searched with metal detectors and wands. A total of 12 on- and off-duty Metro Police and TSU officers were inside and outside the Gentry Center on Monday night, when the shooting took place.

In addition to the measures at TSU, security will be heightened “to a degree” at all district ceremonies this year, Thompson said. Usually there are between eight and 10 officers, up to as many as 15, at Metro ceremonies.

Though security will be increased, Thompson said there are no indications that anything bad will happen — and no connection between MNPS and the Monday shooting. The victim in the shooting did have ties to gangs, according to both Thompson and Metro Police.

“I think that from the information we’ve been gathering, this was kind of destined to happen, whether it was at a supermarket or a community center,” Thompson said. “It just happened to be at a graduation.”

Metro Police are still pursuing “active leads” in identifying Taylor’s killer, according to a press release. A suspect police say matched the description of the gunman was apprehended Monday night, then later released after being found unconnected with the shooting.

Taylor was shot at close range as he was exiting the building, according to Metro Police. A bystander was also shot in the arm and treated at a nearby hospital, and minor injuries were reported when the crowd scrambled after shots were fired.


6 Comments on this post:

By: tv8527 on 5/20/09 at 8:54

I call b.s M.R. Thompson. Your the same type of head in the sand bureaucrat that has let this problem fester in our schools for years.Metro has a gang problem & until you ppl acknowledge it it will never go away.This was a classic gang hit,the guy was "flamed up" in enemy territory & had a history of running with gangs.You wear colors to let ppl know who you are & to get out of your way in this case he was a blood.

By: Cowboy84 on 5/20/09 at 9:25

Aren't schools part of the "community" and isn't the entire point of the new rezoning to build a community by having kids go to schools closer to home?
And to Mr. Thompson; just how in the hell did you keep you job when you make statements like this; “I think that from the information we’ve been gathering, this was kind of destined to happen, whether it was at a supermarket or a community center,” Thompson said. “It just happened to be at a graduation.”

What leadership.

By: thefinalsay on 5/20/09 at 10:04

tongue in cheek; good thing Register kept Thompson in his current position.

Register, how much proof do you need to see ineffectiveness? Duh

Thompson, it happened at a school event. Its a school issue. If it happened in the parking lot of Maplewood after a football game, it would be a school issue. You think geography keeps it from being a school issue? Also, if it wasnt as school issue, the City Paper wouldnt be talking to you about it, they would be talking to MNPD. Duh to you as well.
Admit you cant do the job and move on to a new career.

Good grief.

By: pandabear on 5/20/09 at 11:26

Mr. Thompson:

Hopefully you'll be fired as soon as possible.

By: JohnGalt on 5/20/09 at 1:20

Wearing his hat backward, Mr. Thompson looked like a gang member himself when interviewed.

By: courier37027 on 5/20/09 at 8:49

Had this been an Opry Mills shooting, blame would have been placed on a renegade gun running amok in the mall. Gun jumped into shooter's hand and discharged. Why is the shooter never blamed in these articles?

I can predict the future. NCP will print a column by week's end. In that article will be some kind of public relations fluff piece full of feelgood words and no action. The public relations firm handling Metro Schools image must be working overtime tonight.