Community shows its support for high school

Brighter future foreseen for Randallstown in wake of shootings in May

August 30, 2004|By Ryan Davis | Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

Before embarking today on his freshman year at Morgan State University, William Thomas III returned in a wheelchair yesterday to the Randallstown High School parking lot where he and three other students were shot in May.

At a rally, he joined hundreds of people seeking to spread a message that the school year beginning today for the Baltimore County public schools carries promise to be different from last year - which will be remembered at Randallstown largely for the shooting.

"It could be a good year. It depends on what [students'] attitudes are as they walk in the door," Thomas said after the rally. "There's hope."

The rally marked the culmination of weekly prayer gatherings held this summer at the school. It also marked the beginning of community efforts to make this year better, said organizer Howard L. Jackson.

The goal, he said, is to let students and administrators know that the local church community will help provide a safer environment, and it's up to youths to respond through achievement in their classes.

"We can no longer say it's a school problem," Jackson said. "It's a community problem."

On May 7, as students and others were leaving a charity basketball game at the high school, shooting erupted in the parking lot.

Antonio R. Jackson of Owings Mills, Tyrone Devon Brown of Baltimore and Matthew Timothy McCullough, a Randallstown High student, have been indicted on charges of attempted first-degree murder, as well as assault and handgun charges.

The suspects - ages 21, 23 and 17, respectively, at the time of the shooting - are scheduled for trial Nov. 15 in county Circuit Court.

Yesterday's rally began with a two-mile march from New Antioch Baptist Church to the school parking lot.

Organized by the groups Randallstown Village Stakeholders Network, Baltimore County Organizing Neighborhoods, and Concerned Parents and Guardians of Baltimore County, the rally featured song, dance, prayer and hand-holding.

"The faith community will no longer stand by as a spectator," Jackson said. "The word of God tells us to act when we see evil."

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