Spate of shootings prompts security fixes near Jefferson High School
In the wake of two different drive-by shootings in less than a month near Jefferson High School, Portland Public Schools hopes a major traffic project and security cameras will help curb gun violence in the area.
The Portland school district said it's working with the city's transportation department in an effort to turn Commercial Avenue into a one-way street, to reduce traffic volume near the school.
"We are also accelerating the timeline to install cameras on the Commercial side of Jefferson HS," Sydney Kelly, a spokesperson for PPS, said. "Additionally, we have reached out to Portland Police Bureau and inquired about putting a patrol officer outside of Jefferson before and after school. Our students can also receive mental health and social emotional supports on campus. PPS stands with those who are fighting against the senseless gun violence in our community."
On Monday, Nov. 14, Portland Police responded to a hospital, where a 17-year-old Jefferson High School student was admitted with a gunshot wound to the shoulder.
Police said two students had just left the high school and were driving near North Killingsworth Street and North Haight Avenue around 3:30 p.m., when another car drove by and fired several rounds at them. One of the teens was shot in the shoulder and was taken to a nearby hospital. The other was uninjured. No suspects have been named or arrested.
Just a month prior, on Oct. 18, students were injured by gunfire while standing outside Jefferson High. In that incident, teens were shot at from a stolen car that drove by the school and crashed nearby just minutes later. One student was hit in the leg and another was said to be grazed in the hand by a bullet. Students said they ran for cover inside the school's gym when they heard gunfire break out.
Police said no suspect has been arrested in that case, either.
A few days after the latest shooting, the Portland Police Bureau could not share additional information about the investigation, but planned for extra officers in the area.
"We plan to have extra patrols," Officer Cristina Gericke, a spokesperson for PPB, said Wednesday, Nov. 16. "We're working on putting together overtime missions that would have more officers visible and in the area."
Jefferson High School's Parent, Teacher, Student Association did not immediately respond to a request for input or interview on the recent impact of gun violence on the community. A vice principal at Jefferson also did not respond to a request for input, but after the October shooting that injured students, the school's principal, Drake Shelton, called the incident "a stark reminder of the gun violence that has impacted our communities for the past few years."
Jefferson High School is slated to be remodeled in 2024, but planning is in the early stages. PPS staff said it's too early to know whether the rebuild will lead to other safety improvements.
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