Superintendent visits Crenshaw High after student melee; police seize gun at another campus

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - MAR. 9, 2022. LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, right, meets with school police officers before entering Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, scene of a large brawl that involved students and their parents on Wednesday, Mar. 9, 2022. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
L.A. Unified Supt. Alberto Carvalho, right, meets with school police officers before entering Crenshaw High on Wednesday after a large brawl broke out. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles schools Supt. Alberto Carvalho called for peaceable dialogue and pledged support after a massive fight Wednesday morning involving students at Crenshaw High School.

The melee at Crenshaw involved 50 to 100 students, possibly more, as participants or onlookers, according to police. The South L.A. school's enrollment is about 500.

In an unrelated incident at the East L.A. Skills Center, a school police officer arrested an adult student who was allegedly in possession on campus of a loaded 9-millimeter "ghost gun."

The Crenshaw fight was reported around 9:30 a.m. at the high school, at 5010 11th Ave. in Hyde Park. LAPD responded with an undisclosed number of officers; the Los Angeles School Police Department dispatched 10 officers.

There were no significant injuries or arrests, and Los Angeles Police Department officials said no firearms were involved.

Police officers stand in front of a school
LAPD and school police at Crenshaw High School on Wednesday, after a fight broke out involving at least 50 students. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Crenshaw High "continues to support and address our students’ needs to create a safer and more positive school culture and climate," Carvalho said in a statement after meeting with students and staff at the school, whose full name is Crenshaw High School STEMM Magnet. "This makes me hopeful that students will resolve future incidents with a more positive approach."

"I know news like this can be troubling for our families," Carvalho added. "However, I want to reassure you that Los Angeles Unified is doing everything we can to ensure the Crenshaw High School STEMM Magnet campus is safe and well-equipped with resources that address the social-emotional needs of our students."

Gil Gamez, president of the Los Angeles School Police Assn., said the Crenshaw incident apparently arose out of a fight between two girls last week.

"The girls recruited family and friends over the weekend," Gamez said. "Family and friends showed up today."

The fight began in front of the school but spilled onto campus in the quad area, he said.

School police spokesman Sgt. Rudy Perez could not immediately confirm those details but noted that there was an incident Monday in which two adults went onto campus and tried to fight with a student.

"I am asking families to remind students that differences should be addressed in a manner reflective of Crenshaw High School STEMM Magnet’s commitment to restoring, remediating and healing," Carvalho said.

After the disturbance, the school was placed on lockdown and officers were stationed there for the remainder of the day.

In years past, one school police officer was assigned to each high school. However, school police are no longer allowed on campus — after a decision by the L.A. County Board of Education in response to student activists, who have called for eliminating school police entirely and putting those funds instead toward enhanced counseling services.

Patrol officers are on call when incidents arise.

Reductions in the school police force make it more likely that Los Angeles city police also will be called when there is a larger disturbance or a more serious incident. It is not unusual for both agencies to be summoned in a situation that could involve crowd control or a detailed investigation.

At the East L.A. Skills Center in Lincoln Heights, a school police officer was on campus to investigate a small-scale fight Wednesday morning when an administrator and a student approached her, Perez said.

The two were concerned about an unrelated situation — a student who had previously talked about bringing a gun to campus and who appeared to be acting erratically that morning.

The officer directed the student in question, a 22-year-old, to step out of class, and found in his possession a fully loaded, 9-millimeter Glock ghost gun.

A ghost gun is a privately made firearm that lacks commercial serial numbers that are frequently used to trace a weapon.

The student with the firearm was taken into custody, Perez said.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.