By Rick Palsgrove
A fight recently erupted among four students at Groveport Madison High School.
According to the Groveport Police, around 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 30, the Police School Resource Officer made an emergency radio call for officer assistance due to a fight at the school. The officer used pepper spray to stop the fighting and disperse what police described as an “unruly crowd” that was gathering to watch/participate. Police officers from Groveport, Madison Township, and Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, remained on scene to address any possible following incidents.
Groveport Police Lt. Josh Short said four students “were actively engaged in fighting.”
“One of the male students had (allegedly) initially assaulted one of the other male students in the rotunda area of the high school for reasons unknown at this time,” said Short. “School staff broke up that incident and were bringing both of those students to the office. While both students were being taken to the office, two other students (allegedly) attacked the student who had (allegedly) assaulted the first student. The student who was originally assaulted then broke free from school staff and ran back to engage in fighting with the other three. This occurred on the middle landing and stairs of the main stairway in the cafeteria area.”
Short said the pepper spay was deployed at the fighting students because they were refusing to stop fighting.
“They were endangering school staff and the SRO as they continued to fight wildly with each other and against staff that was trying to stop them,” said Short. “One of the security officers was shoved up against the stair railing and was in danger of being toppled over. We know that the sooner we can stop the fighting the less likely it is that someone will get hurt.”
Short said officers know from experience they need to stop the fighting quickly or other students will run to and encourage or join in the fighting, which makes it difficult for staff to intervene by refusing to disperse or actively blocking or pushing at them.
“The quick use of the pepper spray immediately stopped the fighting and dissuaded any other students from approaching,” said Short.
He said there were no injuries observed or reported due to the assault or fighting. The students affected by the pepper spray were checked out by the school nurse and Columbus Fire Department medics.
“All four students are being charged with aggravated rioting,” said Short. “Additional charges may follow with the continuing investigation and video evidence review.”
Short said officers want the community to know that the Franklin County Juvenile system makes if difficult to arrest and jail a minor.
“Despite what the police or the public thinks is appropriate in disruptive and violent situations like this, we are not regularly able to jail a student for these types of actions,” said Short. “The juvenile detention facility in Franklin County has a strict and narrow list for jailable offenses and most of the occurrences at the high school do not apply.”