April 29, 2005
By MATT BURGARD, And RACHEL GOTTLIEB, Courant
A state Department of Children and Families official
told community leaders and residents at an anti-violence forum
in Hartford on Thursday that a sixth-grader was recently accused
of taking a gun to school.
Among those who attended the forum Thursday was Hartford Police
Chief Patrick Harnett, who said the DCF official's comments marked
the first time he heard about the situation with the boy, who
attends Fred D. Wish Elementary School in the city's North End.
The DCF official, Duckworth Grange, said the boy is 11 years
old and recently went to the Wish school armed with a gun with
the intent of shooting at another student.
Grange's comments were part of a heated discussion among many
local officials and concerned residents who expressed alarm about
youth violence in the city. More than 50 people attended the
Though Harnett said Grange's comments marked the first time
he heard about the situation, Hartford School Superintendent
Robert Henry confirmed after the forum that the boy had been
referred to Juvenile Court after several students reported seeing
him carrying a gun to school.
Henry said the boy was referred to Juvenile Court after Wish
school officials met with Hartford police officers to discuss
the matter. Henry said the gun was never recovered, and it wasn't
clear what kind of gun it may have been. Henry said it also is
not clear whether the boy ever took the gun onto school grounds,
adding that he was unsure what charges the boy faces in Juvenile
Henry said a hearing to determine whether the boy should be
expelled has been delayed.
Grange said he mentioned the incident at Thursday's forum, which
was hosted and sponsored by The Village community service and
outreach organization, to call attention to the growing problem
of young people who are turning to guns to solve disputes or
Though other top school district officials, including school
district spokesman Terry D'Italia, said they were not aware of
the Wish incident, Henry confirmed details of the incident after
learning that Grange had spoken about it at a public forum.
The identity of the boy involved is being withheld because of
his age .
Also in attendance were several young people who urged the audience
to follow up their words of concern with concrete steps to help
show the city's youths that they care.
"The real reason we're here isn't to talk about what we
can do, the real reason is to see what we're going to do," said
Joseph Wilkerson, a 15-year-old participant in the Stump the
Violence youth program who offered up an action plan that his
peers recently created.
Others said the problem would never be solved until society
provides more resources for poor, undereducated parents to help
them take responsibility for their children.
"Parents need to step up and do their job, but they need
help, too," said Dollie McLean, founder and executive director
of the Artists Collective Inc. "Right now, 75 percent of
the people in our jails are minorities. That is no accident."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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