Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

No More Raines Football at Night; after Recent Shooting Incidents, the Final Three Games Will Start Earlier

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

No More Raines Football at Night; after Recent Shooting Incidents, the Final Three Games Will Start Earlier

Article excerpt


Walking out of a high school football game, most people expect to hear the sounds of students celebrating, car horns honking and the band playing. But too often recently, those sounds have included gunfire.

Last year, a 13-year-old Jacksonville boy was seriously injured in a drive-by shooting while walking home from a game at Raines High School. The seventh-grader suffered severe trauma on his leg from the shooting.

This season, shots were reported near the Raines campus after its game against First Coast on Sept. 7. No students were injured then, but two students were shot outside a game at Raines Oct. 12 - even though more than two dozen police officers were assigned to the game.

Duval County school officials are now responding to the violence with a new solution: Taking the "night" out of Friday night football.

School officials announced Tuesday that Raines' three remaining regular season football games will be moved to the daytime in hopes of preventing further violence.

Friday's game against Bishop Kenny will be moved from 7 p.m. to 1 p.m. It's a teachers planning day and there are no classes then.

School system athletic director Jon Fox said the change may upset some parents who might be prevented from attending because of work, but he and Raines Principal Nongongoma Majova-Seane decided the move is necessary.

The other rescheduled games are Jackson at Raines Nov. 2 at 3 p.m. and Raines at Ribault the following week at 2 p.m.

No other schools have rescheduled any games, but that's a possibility if there is further violence, Fox said.

School officials plan to re-evaluate the situation for next year after this season is finished.

Sheriff's Office Sgt. Rob Troxel said 25 to 30 officers were present at the end of the Oct. 12 game, where as many as 20 shots were fired after the game, even though some officers were as close as 50 feet from the shooting.

Ten officers were hired off-duty, one was a school resource officer and the rest were on duty, Fox said.

Fox said it's frustrating that some people are so emboldened that police presence doesn't deter them from violence.

"It's symptomatic of the world in which we live," he said. "Yes, it's frustrating, but it wasn't because those officers weren't doing their jobs."

Raines isn't the only school that's dealt with crime near its games. On Friday, Tony Bellamy, principal of First Coast High, asked for an increased presence for its game against Robert E. Lee High School. Police arrested an unidentified male for trying to bring a .22-caliber handgun into the game.

Helene Kirkpatrick, principal at Forrest High, said the school plans to have extra police officers and school administrators with metal detector wands outside the Nov. …

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