13 arrested after fight at East St. John

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 25, 2010



LAPLACE – Authorities in St. John the Baptist Parish are still trying to determine the motive behind an early morning scuffle at East St. John High School Wednesday that resulted in the arrest of 13 students.

Capt. Dane Clement, public information officer for the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office, said deputies were called to the school about 6:45 a.m. just after the fight broke out. He said when deputies arrived, the fight had subdued, and those involved were detained in a school administrator’s office.

“The fight started as quickly as it ended,” Clement said. “The students involved got off buses and immediately began fighting, but it was under control quick.”

Heidi Trosclair, communications coordinator for the St. John Parish School System, said in a release the high school was on lock down until about 8:30 a.m. School officials said the lockdown was implemented to ensure that all those involved in the scuffle could be identified.

“Student safety is our number one priority,” said East St. John High School Principal Patricia Triche. “As soon as the altercation occurred, all students were sent to class and the school was on lockdown. Within an hour, the lockdown was lifted, and the school day continued as normal.”

Clement said ambulances were called to the scene as a precaution.

He said two people at the school, one with a cut lip and the other suffering from dizziness, were hospitalized, but they were transported to River Parishes Hospital in LaPlace by their parents.

Trosclair said the St. John Parish School District has a “zero tolerance” policy regarding fighting on school grounds as part of the student code of conduct handbook.

She said any student involved in a physical altercation is immediately arrested.

Triche said pending the results of the investigation by police and school officials, all students involved in the fracas would be recommended for expulsion under the no tolerance policy.

Clement said Charles Gardner, 19, of Reserve; Darian Gray, 18, of Reserve; Lester Borne, 18, of Reserve; Bradley Dunn, 18, of Garyville; Clarence Scott, 17 of Garyville; and eight juveniles, two females and six males, were arrested Wednesday. All 13 were charged with disturbing the peace by fighting. Clement said the juveniles were released to their parents, and the older teens have all since bonded out on $130 cash bonds.

Clement said a school resource officer and school administrators are still investigating the incident, but authorities believe the fight may have stemmed from a prior altercation Tuesday evening on East 13th Street in Reserve. Clement said sheriff’s deputies were called out to the street, but when they arrived, no one was there.

“It was just a large group of kids stirring up a fight,” Clement said. “There is no evidence as of yet to say there are more serious undertones involved. It’s not gang related or drug related or anything like that.”

St. John Parish School Superintendent Dr. Courtney Millet said in the release that the school system needs more community involvement to ensure the safety of the students.

“If there is an altercation in our neighborhoods that involve our students, we ask parents to please notify the school or school board office so that extra precautionary measures can be taken to keep the altercation out of the schools,” said Millet. “We are diligent every day to ensure our students’ safety, however, we need the community to help us.”

As of Friday, no incidents of violence had been reported at the school since the Wednesday fight, Clement said.