Sheriff’s office investigating assault at QACHS
CENTREVILLE — The Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an attack that occurred at Queen Anne’s County High School Thursday, Feb. 9. One student was injured; another is facing assault charges.
A video of the attack, released on social media, shows students walking in the lobby of Queen Anne’s County High School, apparently changing classes. A student wearing a green, hooded sweatshirt comes up behind another student and grabs the back of his sweatshirt, pulling him to the floor. Holding on to second student’s sweatshirt or hair with one hand, the first student proceeds to punch the second student in the face about a dozen times, shouting about being called a racial slur, then he stomps the boy on the floor and walks away.
The whole incident, from the time the student was pulled to the floor until the attacker walked away, occurred in under 16 seconds.
Students said the incident happened after the pair exchanged words in guitar class. They said the boy who was beaten was playing his guitar while the teacher was speaking and the other boy told him to shut up, using profanity. The boy playing the guitar responded by calling the other student the “N” word, classmates said. Both were rumored to be ninth-graders.
A statement from the Queen Anne’s County Board of Education referred to the incident as “an altercation” and said school officials called 911. The student who was beaten was taken to Queen Anne’s County Emergency Center for treatment and released later Thursday, they said.
“The student was conscious and alert during this isolated incident, which is under investigation by the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office,” the statement said.
Interim Superintendent of Schools Gregor y Pilewski said, “The safety, security and well-being of all of our students is our number one priority.”
QACHS Principal Dr. Angela Holocker did not return calls for comment.
In the joint statement from the school board and the sheriff’s office, Sheriff Gary Hoffman said, “The goal of the sheriff’s office is to continue to assist the Board of Education in providing the safest environment for all students.”
No information about the actual incident was provided by the sheriff’s office. Dfc. George Sewell is the school resource officer stationed at the high school.
Parents and others community members took to social media Thursday evening to express their concern over events. Some had seen the video; others hadn’t. Some had heard the student was knocked unconscious; some had heard he was in a coma.
One parent said they saw the injured boy on the floor as they were bringing their child back to school after a doctor’s appointment. “The principal was on the floor, as was the school nurse rendering aid. The student was not moving and clearly unconscious. His face was bloody, and he was not moving,” the parent said.
Eventually someone claiming to be familiar with the subjects involved posted on the Residents of Centreville group page that reports of the boy being in a coma were false, but that the boy had suffered a broken nose.
The school statement said the boy was conscious, but no official report as to his injuries was released.
Many of the commenters were outraged by the fact the entire attack was videoed and posted on social media, as if it were some kind of badge of honor. Many wanted to see the videographer punished, too, saying he or she was obviously involved in what they called a premeditated attack.
Many parents were upset they hadn’t received notice of the incident.
Director of Operations Sid Pinder said, historically, fights or incidents of a similar nature are not reported to parents using the Alert Solutions Notification System, which is typically used in the event of any emergency or school closing. The only parents officially notified were those of the parties involved.
Pinder was able to verify the video released on social media did not come from the school nor was it authorized to be released. The school did, in fact, have a camera in the location where the assault occurred and that footage was and continues to be reviewed by school officials, said Pinder.
According to QACPS discipline code, a physical attack on a student may result in consequences ranging from a loss of privileges and after-school detention to suspension with recommendation for further action.
The school and sheriff’s office are working together cooperatively and a conclusion of the sheriff’s office investigation — should it be forthcoming — does not mean the investigation by QACPS is complete, said Pinder. There are numerous details, including following up with students and staff to completely ascertain the events surrounding the incident, Pinder added.
Earlier in the week, the high school’s principal had announced her resignation, and a letter from Holocker went home to parents Thursday evening saying her last day will be Feb. 28. Though the assault happened the same day the letter was sent, the two events are unrelated.
Pilewski did send a letter to parents Friday, mentioning the Thursday incident, but focusing on the multiple changes in school administration.
Editor Angela Price also contributed to this report.