crime

Fifteen students were detained after a series of brawls broke out at Eastside High School in Gainesville Tuesday afternoon. 

There were no weapons involved in the fights and no students or deputies were hurt in the incident, said Alachua County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Frank Kinsey.

Deputies received calls about the incident at around 12:30 p.m., during Eastside’s first lunch period, he said. The fights occurred in an outside seating area by the lunchroom in response to one student punching another. An Eastside school resource officer called for backup when the brawls became too much to handle.

“[It was] loosely affiliated groups,” Kinsey said. “Some people have called them gangs, but they are high school students that represent a certain neighborhood. So it was one group of friends versus another group of friends from that first fight.”

Alachua County Schools spokesperson Jackie Johnson said that while schools in Alachua county have staff members dedicated to disciplinary issues, it can be difficult to deal with problems that originated outside the school.

“These problems may not originate in the school, they originate in neighborhoods and then they end up spilling into the school,” Johnson said. “...We’re talking about more than a school problem. We have a community problem.” 

Fifteen deputies arrived to the scene and restored order with the help of school administrators, Kinsey said. The school was put on soft lockdown, where students not involved in the brawls were sent back to classrooms. Students involved in the fights were detained. The lockdown lasted a few hours until the school’s seventh period. Parents were allowed to pick up their children at normal dismissal.

“We don’t have any intelligence that this was any type of planned event,” Kinsey said. “And we don’t have any intelligence that there’s going to be any continuing violence out in the community.”

The detained students were transported to the Alachua Regional Juvenile Assessment Center, Kinsey said. The students involved with no prior charges will likely be allowed pretrial intervention to keep them out of the criminal system but those that did will go through the criminal court of the juvenile system.

The school will also determine its own sanctions for the students involved in the incident, Johnson said.

“What consequences they will face will be based on what role they played in the situation and if they have any previous disciplinary issues,” Johnson said. “So all that is something that we’ve got to explore, and that will help us shape what additional strategies we may need to put in place.”

Contact River Wells at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @riverhwells