News 12 at 6 o' clock/ March 19, 2014
BURKE COUNTY, Ga.--Three people are behind bars after a shoot-out that sent 5 people to the hospital Sunday morning. Now, 6 more students have been charged after a fight at Burke County High School following the weekend fight at the party.
Investigators say they're still searching for several more suspects in the shooting. 19-year old Tacorey Lakes, 19-year old Brandell Little and a 16-year old are all being charged in that shooting just outside of Waynesboro. But, parents are starting to worry the violence from the community is creeping into schools.
Marie Westerman has two teenagers at Burke County High School. She was shocked when one of them told her about a fight Monday at school. "She said when she arrived at school there were police everywhere to include the Sheriff, and a fight had broken out in the common area between two of the gangs," she said.
That fight was Monday, landing 6 Burke County High School students behind bars, just a day after a gunfight injured 5 people at a party outside of Waynesboro.
Sgt. Dedric Smith with the Burke County Sheriff's Office says, "We believe it started out as just a fight at a party. Then other individuals took that and used it as an opportunity to seek revenge for whatever problem they had between groups."
Witnesses say the gunfire went on for several minutes while teenagers ran for their lives.
Sgt. Smith said, "Just total chaos. Shots being fired from everywhere. They were taking cover behind vehicles just to get away from the gunfire."
Court documents show this isn't the first time two of the suspects have been on the wrong side of the law. Brandell Little has been convicted of burglary, and also faces charges for a robbery by force incident. Tacorey Lakes is still waiting to go to court to face unlawful gang activity charges.
Sgt. Smith says, "We want everybody to take ownership of what happened. These are kids, and the worst thing for a parent is for you to bury your child, and it's headed to that point unless we get the problem situated."
Gangs aren't a new thing for Burke County. A News 12 investigation last year turned up gang tagging on signs and pictures of young men throwing up signs.
Now, investigators worry gang violence is becoming an issue in schools.
"Basically a fight broke out at the school and the Sheriff's Office was contacted. Deputies responded to school to provide assistance," Sgt. Smith said.
Marie Westerman heard about the fight on Monday and pulled her kids out of school.
"Our kids that aren't involved in it are nervous about even being at school, and as parents, we're nervous about sending our kids to school," Westerman said.
She's also concerned because she says the school still hasn't notified parents of what happened Monday. She says, "There was no notification, and I was left by the school system believing everything was fine."
The Burke County Public School System released the following statement:
"In light of the incident that occurred over the weekend, beginning Monday morning, extra security and supervision have been provided throughout Burke County High School.
There were six students involved in the fight that took place at BCHS Monday afternoon. Following normal protocol, the students involved in the incident were taken to the Burke County Sheriff's department, where they were charged with affray and appropriate school-based discipline.
Our students' education and safety are of paramount importance in the Burke County School System. We take this responsibility seriously.
Parents, please rest assured that Burke County High is being closely monitored and is a safe learning environment. All feasible steps are being taken to maintain order and safety in our schools."