Work resumes at school that took bullets

November 14, 1991|By John Rivera P

The day after three stray bullets slammed into two East Baltimore first-grade classrooms, life at Johnston Square Elementary School resumed as usual amid a muted reaction by parents, school officials and the police.

"I haven't had an irate parent here today," said Principal Harold Borden, who met yesterday morning with about 40 parents. They discussed Tuesday's events, in which two men who engaged in a running gunbattle outside the school fired bullets that ended up in the classrooms.

Mr. Borden said parents expressed some concern about school security, but they were not angry or confrontational. None of the 40 students in the classrooms at the time of the shooting was injured.

While Mr. Borden said he believed that the incident "was sort of blown out of proportion," he did say it will make the school's staff and parents more safety conscious. He also said one of his main tasks yesterday was to shake up the matter-of-fact attitude many of the first-grade students had toward the gunfire.

"I wanted them to be a little frightened," he said. "If you have first-graders, and they're not even fazed by this, that's pathetic."

Mr. Borden said he felt security at the school, located in the 1100 block of Valley Street, is adequate. The only change yesterday was that students did not leave through the doors on Biddle Street, where the shooting occurred. Instead, they left through the front doors on Valley Street.

A foot patrol officer walked a beat around the school yesterday but will only remain at that post until Friday, police said. No other additional security measures are planned.

"The incident that happened yesterday was an isolated incident," said Sgt. Marvin Froneberger, an Eastern District neighborhood services officer. "It's not like it's a corner that is a problem or is likely to become one. It looks like it was an incident between two individuals that happened in the vicinity of the school."

But parents who met their children at school dismissal yesterday said there have been several problems at the intersection of Wilcox and Biddle streets, the scene of yesterday's gunbattle.

"That little street back there is drug-related," said one woman who did not want her name used. "And once a bullet goes off, you can't stop it."

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