A South Pasadena High School student was under arrest Friday for allegedly shooting and critically injuring a popular football player from La Canada High School during a fight at an after-prom party last weekend.
The shooting at a La Canada Flintridge home early Sunday was sparked by an argument between students from both high schools, said Sheriff’s Sgt. Victor Ibarra.
Detectives investigating the shooting “found out that, for the past six or seven months, some sort of rivalry was going on between the students,” he said.
The victim, Thomas Johnson-Blasucci, 18, a lineman on the varsity football team, was in stable condition Friday at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena.
Ibarra said the 17-year-old suspect, whose name was not released because he is a minor, was arrested Wednesday after deputies interviewed him at South Pasadena High.
Detectives decided not to make the arrest public until Friday because they wanted to finish interviewing more than 100 people who attended the “BYOB” party, Ibarra said.
According to one La Canada student who was at the gathering, the feud between the two groups started last year at another off-campus party, where two girls from the rival schools argued. Classmates of the girls reportedly joined the fight, throwing bricks and rocks.
The student, who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation, said some of the same South Pasadena students showed up at the La Canada party, also attended by adults, shortly before 2 a.m. When students recognized the teenagers from the previous melee, Johnson-Blasucci asked them to leave, the witness said.
“There had been scuffles with these guys in the past,” the student said. “Tom asked them to leave because he knew there would be trouble if they stayed.”
At that point, the students started yelling and shoving. Authorities said about 20 youths were involved in the fight. “There were glass bottles going everywhere,” the witness said.
He said one of the students left the party and returned with a gun, shooting Johnson-Blasucci in the jaw. “People were screaming,” the student said. “Everyone just scattered.”
Ibarra said deputies have been working around the clock to solve the case. On Wednesday, detectives set up an interview room at South Pasadena High, where they met with students throughout the day. Many were reluctant to talk, he said.
South Pasadena and La Canada school officials have been meeting in recent days to determine if the shooting was an isolated incident between a small group of feuding students, or if it signaled a wider rivalry between the two schools.
“We have always had, just like the other schools in the regional league, a friendly rivalry on the playing fields,” said Janet Anderson, principal of South Pasadena High. “There might be factions of students who have dealt with each other at school-type events at other venues. But I don’t think there is a widespread issue between our two schools.”
Anderson said she has talked to La Canada High officials about having a meeting.
“We are very willing to work together to make sure that we have only healthy relations between our two schools,” she said. “We really want to pull together to see if we can make more healthy relationships.”
The district attorney’s office will decide in the coming days whether to try the suspect as an adult on an attempted murder charge.