A fight at Gallatin High School two weeks ago involved at least three students with ties to a local gang, and sent an assistant principal who was struck several times in the head to the emergency room hours later, according to a Sumner County Sheriff's Office incident report.
The report obtained by the Gallatin News appears to contradict statements Sumner County Schools Spokesman Jeremy Johnson made to several news outlets immediately following the Feb. 16 event.
Johnson said then the incident that involved nearly a dozen students did not appear to be gang-related and that no teachers or resource officers were injured in the melee. He also said that three students were charged with assault and all 10 involved had been charged with disorderly conduct. Six students will face the district's disciplinary hearing board, he added.
The school was placed on alert status shortly after the fight broke out in a school hallway just after 8 a.m. Almost immediately, accounts of the fight began to surface on social media.
Principal Ron Becker sent the following email to parents at around 10:30 a.m.
"There are many rumors going around on Facebook and other social media that are simply not true," read the email. "In the hopes of clarifying and dispelling these rumors, this morning, before school there was a fight among a few male students. No serious injuries occurred. No weapons were involved."
According to the incident report obtained Friday from the sheriff's office, GHS school resource officer Deputy Renee Workings was in the cafeteria at around 8:10 a.m. when she heard a commotion involving females in the hallway. When she walked further down the hall, she saw two male students fighting and several students around them.
When she tried to break up the fight, she was either pushed or tripped and fell to the ground. Workings instructed Becker to place the school on alert status and notify her supervisor, Lt. Danny Hurst, another SRO officer and Gallatin Police to help control the situation, according to the report.
Female student charged with slapping teacher, assistant principal
Workings spoke with a teacher who told her that a 14-year-old female student who was a bystander in the hallway "was cursing her as she was escorting her to class and then she slapped [the teacher] across the face." When an assistant principal came to escort the student to the office, the teen slapped him in the face as well, according to the report. Records show the teen, whose name has been redacted along with the others involved, was charged with two counts of simple assault and unruly behavior.
After taking statements and looking at the evidence, Workings charged the instigator of the fight with two counts of assault and disorderly conduct, according to the report. The report also says that two other students were charged with assault and disorderly conduct - one for "punching Mr. Anderson in the eye." Four other students were charged with disorderly conduct, according to the report.
It also states that "as [name redacted] and his mother were leaving along with Dr. Becker principal at Gallatin High School walking along escorting him out of the building, Dr. Becker advised me that [redacted] admitted to being the leader of the squad gang 'Reckless' and that he calls the shots and that [redacted] and [redacted] known as Rambo are also members."
Workings says in the report that she was notified the next morning by assistant principal Johnnie Anderson who told her "he wound up having to go to the emergency room on the evening of Feb. 16 due to not feeling well after having been hit/punched several times in the head by multiple people and that he was told it was a possible concussion."
In a supplement to the report, Workings says she was sent a video via email by Anderson the next morning. After reviewing the video numerous times, Workings says she filed an assault charge against a student on Feb. 21 "due to in the video it appears as though he assaulted Mr. Anderson by punching him in the head area as Mr. Anderson was holding [redacted] against the wall keeping him separated from others."
Johnson said on Friday he relayed to the news media information he was given by school administrators at the time of the incident.
"Initially administrators did not believe it was gang-related," said Johnson. "As the sheriff office's investigation progressed, they determined that it was in fact gang-related."
Johnson added the extent of Anderson's injuries weren't known right away either, noting he went to the emergency room later that night.
"We made statements at the time based on the information we had," he said. "And obviously as they investigated, new information has come to light."
The six students ordered to go through the school system's disciplinary process have been disciplined, Johnson said. He could not say what the disciplinary measures were, but added they were no longer at Gallatin High School. As part of the disciplinary process, a student could be either expelled, suspended or sent to the school district's alternative school, R. T. Fisher.