After shooting near Jacksonville elementary school, school board searches for answers

Board members Tuesday talked about the need to reduce school lockdowns related to crime near schools.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A school board member is sounding the alarm after a recent shooting near a Northwest Jacksonville elementary school.

The shooting, which happened near George Washington Carver Elementary School on Monday, prompted a school-wide lockdown when at least two bullets hit a door at the school and at least one person was hit by gunfire. The school was placed on Code Red lockdown for about 45 minutes while JSO investigated.

“They actually fled onto the school campus, and the shooting continued,” a JSO spokesman said. “We had a vehicle that was parked in the parking lot of the school and the door on the school boiler room were also struck by the gunfire.”

JSO said investigators found a man in his 20s with a gunshot wound to the head. He is expected to recover.

Duval County School Board Chairman Warren Jones along with Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene, went to the school shortly after the shooting.

“I was just glad that no one [in the school] was hurt," Jones, who represents District 5 where the school was located, told News4Jax on Tuesday. “The kids were inside when it happened. Fortunately, none of them saw the shooting.”

Jones discussed the traumatic incident during a school board meeting Tuesday night. He called for the need to reduce crime around schools, which would help limit the Code Red and Code Yellow lockdowns for students and employees.

“When you have a Code Red or a Code yellow, you disrupt the school day," Jones said. "Students are trying to learn and teachers are trying to provide that education that they so desperately need but yet you have to stop, get down in a classroom or stay down in one classroom and not change classrooms. It’s very disruptive. And how many times do we lose good employees because they don’t want to teach in that environment?”

Data presented by Jones on Tuesday shows that lockdowns are trending in the wrong direction.

During the 2018-19 school year, there were 70 total lockdowns at Duval County Schools and 24 of the lockdowns were caused by criminal activity outside the school. For the 2019-2020 school year, there were 71 total lockdowns, 26 of which happened because of crime near the school.

Statistics show how many school lockdowns that happened due to criminal activity near Duval County schools.
Statistics show how many school lockdowns that happened due to criminal activity near Duval County schools. (DCPS)

School Districts 4 and 5, which cover large sections of North and Northwest Jacksonville, accounted for 81% of the incidences caused by outside activity districtwide last school year.

"How do you teach a child when he or she comes to school with that kind of heaviness on their mind, that trauma that worried about a loved one that’s been injured by needless gunfire?” Jones said.

Jones said he plans to share the startling numbers and concerns with Mayor Lenny Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams and propose a new safety zone around area schools.

“We need to sound the alarm and make sure we put in place prevention and intervention methods along with policing,” Jones said, adding that more initiatives need to be created to keep young people busy at night like keeping parks open in the evenings that are fully staffed.

Family members of local students are disappointed that they can’t consider their schools to be a safe place.

“It’s crazy, and it puts the kids in danger," said Tara Givens, grandmother to children who attend George Washington Carver Elementary. "It needs to stop. They need to get the guns off the street, and get more programs for the kids to have something to do.”

No arrests have been made yet in Monday’s shooting. Investigators said they did not yet know what the motive was behind the shooting. Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 904-630-0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS (8477).

The school district said it made support staff available for students at the school.

About the Author: