Pembroke Park: Heavy law enforcement presence at Watkins Elementary School after gunshots erupted – Sun Sentinel

Pembroke Park: Heavy law enforcement presence at Watkins Elementary School after gunshots erupted- Sun Sentinel

It was a violent and horrifying start to their school day as gunshots erupted near abus stop early Friday where about a dozen children came under fire.


It was a violent and horrifying start to their school day as gunshots erupted near abus stop early Friday where about a dozen children came under fire.

A bullet grazed the neck of a 15-year-old girl while she walked toward the bus stop, officials said.

The teen, a Hallandale Beach High School, was nearing the bus stop where about a dozen other students were waiting or approaching, but no one else was hurt, the Broward Sheriff’s Office said.

“Obviously, a terrifying situation for all of these kids that were coming to the bus stop to find themselves under gunfire,” Broward Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Keyla Concepcion said. “But luckily, she was the only one injured and it was a minor injury at that.”

Numerous shots were fired during the incident, Concepcion said.

The incident happened shortly before 6:40 a.m. on Southwest 52nd Avenue just south of Hallandale Beach Boulevard and steps from Watkins Elementary School.

After being shot, the girl was able to call her father who picked her up and took her to a nearby hospital. She was later transported to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami with injuries that officials said were not life-threatening.

Near the shooting scene, neighborhood resident Cyrus Whitelocke said he overheard the injured girl’s father speaking with investigators, he said. Whitelocke exchanged a few words with the father.

“He was devastated,” Whitelocke said. “He was saying he take her to the hospital. He said she’s moving around.”

Kettlyne Riche, who had stepped out of her nearby apartment for a smoke, heard the pre-dawn gunfire.

“It is sad and it’s scary. When you’re a mother and you hear that somebody’s kid got shot it’s kind of crazy,” she said.

Despite the shooting, parents were still able to take their children to Watkins, where classes were taking place Friday as scheduled.

“School pretty much started the day with a lockdown because there was police activity in the neighborhood,” said Nadine Drew, a spokeswoman for the Broward County School District.

“It resulted in school traffic being detoured and it was a little inconvenient in terms of buses and traffic and kids getting to school. Other than that, the incident was not school related. All is well there, the kids are safe,” Drew said.

After the lockdown was lifted, as a safety precaution, school officials opted to keep all activities indoors on Friday, she said.

Some parents who walked their children to school noticed the police activity but did not know a child had been shot.

“Oh my God, that is really disturbing. A shooting was the furthest thing from my mind,” said Lilith Dookan, upon learning news of the injured student. “It makes me think it could be my child. My heart really goes out to the family.”

As they approached the elementary school that two of Dookan’s children attend, they were already asking questions. Dookan acknowledged it was a tough lesson for her young children to learn.

“I’m going to have to reassure them that it’s not going to happen to them,” she said.

Keyshia Allen, too, has a daughter who attends Watkins and was too frightened to walk home from school in the afternoon. Allen tried to comfort her by arranging for someone to meet her after school.

“There’s crazy people out in this world. I pray for this family,” she said. “My daughter is asking questions I really can’t explain to her.”

Early on during the investigation, witnesses told deputies that a red pickup truck left the scene after the shooting. A vehicle matching its description was later stopped along Interstate 95 near Oakland Park Boulevard. However, its driver was not detained because investigators had learned that the teen’s father took her to the hospital in a red pickup truck.

The investigation into the shooting is continuing. No suspect information has so far been released.

It’s unknown whether the shooter fired from within a car, a nearby apartment building or while on foot, Concepcion said.

“It could have been a lot worse and we’re very lucky at this point, as well as this victim, that she was only grazed by a bullet and that actually we’re not talking about a child that’s dead or multiple children hurt which could have obviously been a potential situation.”

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