Another incident last week involving a gun at East Boston High School has parents and students on edge as security is beefed up at the neighborhood’s only high school.
Just before 9:30 a.m. last Thursday a 20-year-old student was arrested near the school on Brooks Street.
Following the student’s arrest police recovered a gun and Keon Harris, 20, of Boston was arraigned at East Boston District Court on a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm.
“The safety of students and staff is always the top priority of the Boston Public Schools (BPS),” said BPS in a statement following the incident. “A student from East Boston High School was arrested off of school property by the Boston School Police. A short time later, officers discovered a weapon discarded off of school property, near the location of where the student was apprehended. The school was not placed into safe mode, as the incident occurred off school property and was quickly resolved. East Boston High School will increase the use of metal detection technology immediately, and utilize staff and School Police to provide a visible presence in and around the school.”
The arrest of Harris was the third incident this school year that involved a student with a gun or a threat to the school.
In September a juvenile student was arrested for having a firearm on EBHS’s campus. However, school officials maintain that the arrest and discovery of the gun was unrelated to the school. With that said, the incident still left many on edge. The student, according to police, was being picked up at the school for an outstanding warrant. The student was pulled out of class and while detained inside the school’s office, police found a loaded .357 Magnum in his pants.
At the time BPS spokesman Daniel O’Brien said EBHS’s school police officers would implement random searches and utilize staff and Boston School Police officers to continue providing a visible presence around the school.
Then in March police arrested 19-year-old Kevin Vasquez Funes and charged him under the ‘bomb threat’ statute. Funes allegedly told fellow students he planned to shoot up the school. Suffolk County District Attorney spokesman Jake Wark explained the statute covers threats to do harm with a gun or other weapon. At his arraignment Funes said he was just fooling around, but the judge ordered Funes held on $5,000 bail at his arraignment. The Salvadoran national was later detained by ICE agents at his home after it was found he entered the U.S. illegally in 2015.
The nation has been on edge following the February mass shooting at a Florida school that killed 17 students. School districts across the country have been taking every threat very seriously.
Students at EBHS spoke out about the latest incident and have been questioning school administrators about why the school was not put on ‘lockdown’.
While protocol calls for lock down to be implemented in an active shooter incident, some pointed to other incidents like when the Mario Umana went into lockdown after a report of a man with a gun near the school.
However, some parents and staff defended the school and its safety protocol late last week, and argued the Umana incident warranted a lockdown because the suspect was reportedly on the school’s campus near the park in the back. Last week’s incident at EBHS happened on a city street and not on school property and was dealt with quickly by police. BPS maintains no student was ever in harm’s way.