LOS ANGELES – The family of a 15-year-old boy who was shot in an arm at Highland High School in Palmdale filed a claim against the Antelope Valley Union High School District Thursday, claiming lax security at the school contributed to the shooting.
Robert Ruiz Dominguez was shot around 7 a.m. May 11 at the school in the 39000 block of 25th Street West. The suspect, a 14-year-old boy described as a former student at the school, was arrested a short time later at a nearby Vons grocery store. The SKS semiautomatic rifle used in the shooting was found abandoned in a nearby field.
“When I go to school, I would think that I’d be safe and I wouldn’t really expect myself to get shot,” the boy said during a news conference at the Woodland Hills office of his attorney, Bradley Gage. “But now that I did get shot, I don’t feel like going to any other school, ’cause it happened at one school, it could happen at another.”
The school district issued a statement saying it was thankful no lives were lost and that the student is recovering.
“That said, we acknowledge that the child and his family have been through a traumatic experience and we have offered them our support since the day of the incident and will continue to do so,” according to the district. “We also continue to work with our law enforcement partners to fortify our safety protocols across all our schools.”
Gage released a photo of the teen’s injured arm, showing stitches along virtually its entire length. The legal claim filed on behalf of the teen and his sister, who was shot at but wasn’t injured, is a precursor to a possible lawsuit.
Gage said the school did not have a safety plan in place, and the school resource officer assigned to the campus doesn’t start working until 9 a.m., even though students begin arriving at the campus around 6:20 a.m.
“First and foremost, we want to see a safety plan set up so that children are secure there,” Gage said. “Secondly, we want to see the security guards trained so they can actually protect students if this happens again. Third, we want to see a school resource officer, or more than one, at the school right from the get-go.”
District officials said schools do have safety plans. In a letter to district parents last week, AVUHSD Superintendent David Vierra said the district is “continuously reviewing our safety protocols,” and said recent “safety walks” of campuses helped identify potential improvements that will be made at various schools. Those upgrades “include enhanced fencing, additional security personnel, updated surveillance cameras, front entrance modifications and an online visitor entrance systems.”
“Each of our schools has a dedicated school deputy who is on campus each day,” Vierra wrote. “We believe this is important in supporting our security staff. We also have various drills and training for students and staff throughout the school year, and we continue to underscore the importance of vigilance through `See Something, Say Something.”
Editor’s note: Story updated to include a statement from the school district.
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