As crowd leaves game, fight erupts in North Gym lot

Shaker Heights police responded to a fight in the North Gym parking lot Dec. 2 after the men’s basketball home opener against Toledo St. John’s. One minor and one adult were arrested.

An incident report of the fight obtained from the SHPD states, “On Friday 12/02/2011, Shaker Hts. Police Units were requested to respond to the Shaker Heights High School parking lot on a report of a large fight in progress. Upon arrival one juvenile male, and one adult male [were] placed under arrest for disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and obstructing official police business.”

According to Assistant Principal Eric Hutchinson, the administrator assigned to the game, the fight involved current and former Shaker students and did not involve players or Toledo St. John’s students. Griffith said that the fight was not related to issues from school.

Hutchinson said that the hockey game, the basketball game and the school play happening simultaneously diluted Shaker security’s presence at each event. Principal Michael Griffith said that “maybe four police officers” were assigned to the basketball game and had to call four additional officers when the fight occurred.

Griffith was involved in the school production of “A Wonderful Town” Friday night. From backstage, Griffith could hear a disturbance outside. “When I heard a dog bark, I knew something was wrong,” said Griffith, who believes the police dog attacked one student.

Griffith said by the time could leave the auditorium and go outside, police had already handled the incident.

Though Griffith said fighting after basketball games is not an ongoing problem, he also said that the school should take steps to combat it.

“Our presence out there is critical. We’ve taken steps to say that we should be out there prior to the dismissal of an event, so that when people come out, there’s already a visible presence to make the point that we’re expecting it to be a nice, quiet exit,” Griffith said.

Griffith also noted the dimness of the North Gym parking lot. “It was dark. You can’t see faces, you don’t know who’s who,” he said, adding that “we will try to make it a more visible place.”

Shaker eighth-grader Josh Podl said he saw the end of the fight. “When I walked out, I saw a crowd of people and I didn’t know what was going on,” Podl stated in a Facebook interview. “I looked closer and I saw someone on the ground getting handcuffed. I saw several policemen with their dogs.”

Despite rumors, Lebron James was not in attendance. “This was like the perfect storm,” Assistant Principal Eric Hutchinson said in reference to the rumor, the large attendance, the talent, and the spirited blackout. 

In the home opener, the Raider men’s basketball team defeated Toledo St. John’s 63-62. Terry Rozier scored 27 points for the Raiders, and senior Kash Blackwell scored 12 points.

 A version of this article appeared in print on 14 December 2011, on page 3 of The Shakerite.

 

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