3 injured, 10 arrested in Rich South High School brawl - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

3 injured, 10 arrested in Rich South High School brawl

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RICHTON SOUTH, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Ten students were charged with felony mob action after a massive brawl broke out Monday afternoon at Rich South High School between students at Rich South and those from Rich Central, who were bused to Rich South after a bomb threat at their school, Richton Park police said.

The melee occurred about 2:30 p.m. after about 1,400 Central students were transported to South and placed in the school gym and someone pulled a fire alarm at the school, 5000 Sauk Trail, police said.

They said three girls were injured when trampled during the evacuation of the building and were taken to a hospital. A Rich South teacher and a Richton Park police officer were also treated at a hospital for injuries sustained during the melee, which broke out while students from both schools (about 2,800) were outside the school, according to police.

They said it took about an hour to end the fighting among students, and police did not use stun guns or pepper spray in trying to quell the brawl. The Central students were bused back to their school, and the South students were sent home, police said.

Of the 10 students facing mob action charges, only Crystal Gholson, 17, of Country Club Hills, was charged as an adult, police said, adding that more arrests are possible after a review of video surveillance from the school.

More than 30 Cook County sheriff's police officers were called to assist in ending the fighting, along with officers from Matteson, Park Forest, and New Lenox.

Police said they became aware that the Central students had been bused to South only when they were called about groups of students fighting each other on the South grounds.

Rich Township High School District 227 Board president Cheryl Coleman said the trouble began when a student at Rich Central made some sort of bomb threat to a substitute teacher about 1 p.m.

Olympia Fields police said they found a threatening note and an "unattended and accounted for box with wires protruding from it on the floor in one of the classrooms." They said the sheriff's police bomb squad arrived at Central, 3600 W. 203rd St., Olympia Fields, and determined that the device was not explosive.

Coleman said the substitute teacher alerted Central administrators about the bomb threat and it was decided to bus the students to South.

Williams said the decision to bus the Central students to South came from the district superintendent's office, although she didn't know who made the decision.

"I would have advised the school against it," Williams said. "When you get that many students together from different schools, you need to have certain controls in place. Those controls were not in place, and things got out of hand."

School board member Emmanuel Imoukhuede said "whoever made that decision has no knowledge of safety of children and something needs to be done quickly. Such a person should not be responsible for taking care of the kids anymore."

Board member Sheila Friday called the whole situation "ridiculous."

"None of this would have happened if the students were never transported to Rich South," Friday said. "We could have sent the (Central) kids home and got in touch with their parents and dealt with that consequence rather than putting them in a position where they could be harmed."

Multiple messages left Tuesday with District 227 Supt. Doris Langon and Rich Central Principal Cynthia Hudson were not returned. Rich South Principal Jennifer Bednarczyk declined comment.

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