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Brawls Briefly Shut 2 Area High Schools

Times Staff Writer

Brawls at two high schools more than 70 miles apart Friday prompted officials to briefly lock down both campuses, authorities said.

A midmorning fight involved 15 to 20 students at Norte Vista High School in Riverside; about six students scuffled during lunchtime at Santa Monica High School.

One student involved in the melee at Norte Vista suffered an anxiety attack and was treated by paramedics. He was released to administrators, Principal Santos Campos said. Two or three other students suffered “scratches and minor bruises,” he said.

Several Norte Vista students and parents said the brawl was between Latino and black students, but Campos said that it was not racially motivated.

About five students were arrested, Campos said. Others involved were suspended and released to their parents.

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At Santa Monica High, about half a dozen black and Latino students fought briefly, officials said. “It was more racial tension than it was gang-related,” Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Supt. John Deasy said.

School officials called police “to make sure there was no escalation” when about 100 onlookers would not disperse, Deasy said.

After school, the students were “dismissed methodically, building by building” to prevent further incidents, he said. No serious injuries were reported.

The fight at Norte Vista erupted in an outdoor quad area during a nutrition break at 9:51 a.m. and ended before Riverside police arrived several minutes later, Campos said. No weapons were involved in the incident, which stemmed from an unresolved dispute Thursday night at a nearby park, he said.

“I’m disappointed,” he said. “The whole year we’ve done a great job resolving issues before they were able to take place on campus. I’m also really proud of the staff and the kids. After the incident we were able to move on.”

The melee at Norte Vista began after two students started fighting, not because of racial tensions, Campos said. “I saw one young man calling out another young man,” he said. “What we call pre-fight behavior.”

About eight more students jumped in before Campos and other school staff were able to intercede. Several others joined the brawl after school staff became involved, Campos said.

When the melee ended, the school was locked down about an hour while police and administrators searched for the students involved, Campos said.

At the end of the day, Ofelia Urena waited for her 14-year-old son to be dismissed. She said she called his cellphone when another parent called to alert her of what had happened. Her son reassured her he was fine, she said. “I’m nervous,” she said. “Next time there could be a gun.”

Both incidents come on the heels of a disturbance Thursday involving more than 100 Latinos and blacks at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles. The month before, a melee involving nearly 500 students erupted at Grant High School in the San Fernando Valley, officials said.

In December, officials at Wilmer Amina Carter High School in Rialto closed the campus for several days after a lunchtime brawl between black and Latino students, the second such fight in less than a week.

Times staff writer Susana Enriquez contributed to this report.


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