Violence resurfaces at high school

By David Scharfenberg Daily Planet Staff
Tuesday September 10, 2002


A Berkeley High School sophomore broke his right leg in two places Friday morning after leaping down a staircase to escape a small group of gang members, police said. 

The incident came one day after several students took part in an unrelated fight after school in Civic Center Park, adjacent to the high school. 

Police declined to release the names of the victims or alleged perpetrators in either attack since they are minors. But department spokesperson Inspector Arnold Lui said police planned to make a pair of arrests Monday afternoon. Lui could not confirm whether the suspects were involved in the first or second incident. 

The attacks, just two weeks into the school year, came on the heels of several well-publicized attacks last year. 

Berkeley High co-principal Laura Leventer expressed concern about last week’s events, but said that security at the school has improved since officials put a new safety plan in place last spring. 

“I see a much more positive environment,” she said. 

But Richard Crum, whose daughter dates the sophomore who broke his leg Friday, said the events of last week raise serious questions about security at Berkeley High School. 

“This is a public school,” Crum said. “I think students have a right to attend school and get an education in a safe place.” 

Crum said he might move his family out of the city so his two high school children can attend a new school. 

According to Lui, the assailants in the Friday incident are from a Latino gang called the “Fourteens,” from west Berkeley, and believed that the victim, also a Latino, was from a rival south Berkeley gang called the “Thirteens.” 

Crum said the victim is “in no way, shape or form” a member of a gang. 

“He is at my house everyday studying,” Crum said. 

The victim, who declined to discuss the details of the case, called the Daily Planet to say that he is not a gang member. 

According to Crum, the victim underwent four hours of surgery to repair his leg at Alta Bates-Summit Medical Center Friday. An Alta Bates spokesperson said that he was discharged Sunday. 

Lui said the Thursday fight in Civic Center Park stemmed from a verbal fight in a science class between two students. After school, a student backed by three or four friends approached the classmate and attacked him. 

A female friend of the victim who tried to break up the fight took several blows from other female attackers but never saw their faces, Lui said. 

The victim suffered a bruise and several cuts but declined medical treatment, Lui said. His female friend reported no injuries.