School authorities reacted properly to yesterday's shooting incident at Steuart Hill Elementary School in Baltimore, Superintendent Walter G. Amprey said today.
But Amprey decried the "proliferation of violence" affecting urban schools around the country, saying that "what could have been a very dangerous, troubling situation" was avoided only by luck and quick reaction by school staff.
Amprey's comments came a day after four or five young men waged a gun battle in front of the school at dismissal time, while some children were in the school yard with a group of teachers, according to police and city school officials.
Police said one man tried to get in one of the school doors, but it was locked.
That shooting came just two hours after a 16-year-old student at Harbor City Learning Center was slightly injured by a pellet gun fired by a man in the parking lot.
No one was injured in the Steuart Hill Elementary shooting, in which at least four and maybe five men armed with handguns ran through the school yard in the first block of S. Gilmor St., firing at each other about 2:35 p.m. yesterday.
"We have no report of injuries or property damage," said Agent Arlene Jenkins, a city police spokeswoman.
Students were leaving the school when teachers on a playground with a group of students heard gunshots, said Karen V. Poe, a school system spokeswoman.
All the children immediately were brought back into the school and were held there while police searched the area with patrol cars and a helicopter, Poe said.
Students were kept at the school a half-hour beyond the 2:30 p.m. dismissal time, said Poe.
Amprey praised the quick reaction of the school staff, and said school security procedures, including the locking of doors, worked in this case.
"I think that everybody did what they should have done," he said.
Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said today he was concerned about the gunmen's "total disregard for the safety of others, especially school children" during the gun battle.
"At least what happened wasn't a reflection of what is going on inside the school," the mayor said, who visited the school today. "The principal there is doing a first-rate job."
In the second incident, a student at Harbor City Learning Center, in the 1000 block of W. Saratoga St., was shot in the hand and slightly injured by a pellet gun fired by a young man who is not a student at the school. He fled afterward.