Prompted by a shootout outside Johnston Square Elementary School in East Baltimore, city police plan to increase patrols near the school to reassure worried parents and pupils.
"They will heighten patrols and awareness to calm people's fears, and to let the criminal element in that section of town know they are there," said Karen V. Poe, a city school spokeswoman.
About 1:30 p.m Tuesday, police said two men exchanged gunfire outside the school, in the 1100 block of Valley St. at Biddle Street. One gunman was at Biddle and Wilcox streets and the other on Valley Street, police said.
Three bullets broke windows in a classroom where 20 first-graders and a teacher were present. Two of the bullets struck a cabinet and the third struck a ceiling light. No one was injured.
At a meeting yesterday, Principal Harold Borden discused the shooting with students and parents to allay their concerns.
Poe described the shooting as a sign of the violent times plaguing society. "It's an unfortunate and random incident," she said. "Children could have been injured."
Normally, police patrol only the middle and high schools in the city, where violence primarily occurs on or around school grounds, Poe said.
Dennis Hill, a city police spokesman, said police routinely try keep an eye on schools, adding: "We don't have enough [officers] to assign one to every school. We cannot be everywhere all the time."
As a result of the shooting, Eastern District Maj. Alvin A. Winkler has assigned a foot patrol officer to monitor activities around the school. Officers in patrol cars also will be giving the school special attention, Winkler said.