Coalition formed to aid Randallstown High

Community forum draws 200 to address issues in wake of shooting

May 20, 2004|By Sara Neufeld | Sara Neufeld,SUN STAFF

From parents to politicians, about 200 people gathered in Randallstown High School's auditorium last night and pledged to improve the school in the wake of the May 7 shooting that wounded four students.

Area residents announced the formation of a coalition to help the school, Randallstown Community Stakeholders.

"What happened on that Friday is not just the school's problem," said Arnell T. Carter, father of a Randallstown High junior. "What happened is a community problem."

Principal Thomas Evans spent nearly an hour addressing the crowd, explaining issues ranging from the school's response to the shooting to plans for boosting academic achievement.

Evans and several speakers urged parents to take a more active role in their children's education.

"Our kids are very, very angry," said Brian Morrison, the school's social studies chairman. "They're angry at us. ... They're blaming each and every adult in here for jeopardizing their safety. ... It's up to us to make this a safe place for them."

The parents of the boy most seriously wounded, William Thomas, received a standing ovation after his father spoke and his mother was introduced.

William remains hospitalized in serious condition at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, with doubts whether he will walk again.

The other three victims, Andre Mellerson, Marcus McLain and Alex Brown, were treated at area hospitals and released.

Four suspects have been arrested and charged with four counts of attempted first-degree murder: Matthew McCullough, 17, a Randallstown student; Ronald Johnson, 20, a Randallstown graduate; Antonio Jackson, 21; and Tyrone Brown, 23, known as "Fat Boy."

School officials have said McCullough had gotten into a fight in the cafeteria earlier in the week - Evans called it "a disagreement" last night - after another student called him a name. He was then taunted by a group of students that included some of the school's football players, Evans had said in an earlier interview.

A dispute between McCullough and a football player over a girl added to the tension, police said.

McCullough was told to take May 7 off as a "cool down" day. But that afternoon, about the time school was letting out, an administrator saw him near the school and asked a police officer assigned there to talk to him.

A few hours later, as a charity basketball game was letting out, McCullough, Johnson and Tyrone Brown arrived at the school in a gold Honda, police said.

They met with Jackson, who had driven up in a black BMW leased in his name.

McCullough had said he was "going to get" the person with whom he had the dispute over the girl, court documents state. While that boy wasn't there, a brawl soon erupted on the steps of the school.

Someone retrieved a semiautomatic handgun from the BMW, according to court documents.

Witnesses saw Tyrone Brown fire shots over the top of the car into the crowd, according to the documents.

He then passed the gun to McCullough, police said.

Sun staff writer Julie Bykowicz contributed to this article.

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