Hialeah Senior High School was forced into a lockdown Wednesday after a handful of fights broke out on campus.
Students said the brawls were just the latest in a string of fights — including one captured in a video (see below) — involving a group of freshmen and sophomores who call themselves the “East Side Jumpers.” A school district official, however, said the fights were not related.
Several students, who said they did not want their names used for fear of being dragged into the melees, told similar stories about the group picking fights with older students. They said brawls involving multiple students also happened after school on Monday near adjacent homes and on Tuesday at a nearby McDonald’s.
On Wednesday, the skirmishes appear to have spilled over to the school itself and proved serious enough for administrators to call for a lockdown. Hialeah police in unmarked cars also showed up to the school.
Several students at the campus said there were at least four fights during the day. Miami-Dade County School Police Lt. Raul Correa said there were “sporadic fights throughout the hallways.”
Birgith Phillips, a science teacher at Hialeah High, said the lockdown went smoothly, with teachers in her area all following protocol.
“All of us did what we were expected to do,” she said.
Phillips said the school had always been “very, very safe” but she had noticed more fights lately involving younger students.
Hialeah Police Department spokesman Carl Zogby confirmed the fight at McDonald’s on Tuesday, saying it involved “several youths — Hialeah High students.”
The Miami Herald also obtained a video that students said captured the Monday brawl. It wasn’t possible to determine if the melee, which one student said had been posted on YouTube but then removed, was staged or spontaneous.
In it, about 20 students, wearing red polo shirts and book bags, start swinging in a grassy alley between homes. At one point, a young man lies on the ground and wraps his arms over his head. Two other kids walk up, and stomp and kick the young man’s head.
Another student ends up with a bloody face, apparently after being punched in the eye.
District spokesman John Schuster confirmed in an email that a fight occurred off-campus Monday involving students. On Tuesday, students showed a recording of the fight to school police, he added.
“The school took administrative action and suspended two students. Schools Police attended dismissal to ensure safety and prevent disruption,” Schuster wrote.
Students interviewed at the school after the lockdown was lifted said they had never experienced similar incidents at the school. Most said they still feel safe, despite the flurry of fights.
Andy Martinez, a senior at Hialeah High, praised the schools’ advanced course offerings, availability of clubs and sports teams. He said school administrators are well-liked and diligent.
“Even after this incident, I feel safe,” Martinez said. “The minute something happened in the school, the administration was there.”
On Twitter, Miami-Dade school police called Wednesday’s events a “minor distrubance.” They also dismissed reports of a shooting or stabbing that circulated on social media. A district official also said that an ambulance was at the school for an “unrelated situation.”
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