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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence
nearby in the hallway.12 Another hit Robert Anderson, a teacher who had stepped out of his classroom to investigate a noise that sounded like firecrackers.13 Jason Bentley ran from the scene but was quickly apprehended by the police.
Daryl Sharpe was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead a few hours later.14
Robert Anderson was also taken to a hospital and treated for the wound from which he would eventually recover.15
At Thomas Jefferson High School, Principal Carol Beck called a special assembly of the students and announced what had happened. Students were shocked and dismayed. School was dismissed early.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, offers of help came in from community organizers, religious leaders, and the political and educational leadership of the city. Grief counseling and increased security were immediately instituted. A grief room at the school provided a site for ongoing discussion of the events of November 25. Mourning had a prominent place in the life of the school, antedating this event. A large number of Jefferson students had died due to violence in the community—between 30 and 75 in the preceding five years, the number varying in different reports16—and Principal Beck had wanted a place for young people to talk about the traumatic events that were occurring.
In the grief counseling room, Jermaine Henderson, 17, spoke of the moments after the shooting. “[Daryl] kept saying, ‘Get me up.’ The more he talked, he kept losing his voice. He pointed toward his chest. I unbuttoned his collar. There was a hole in his neck…. If he had stepped the other way, that could have been me in the newspaper today.”17 Henderson himself carried a bullet in his head and another in his shoulder from random street violence. One report noted that 50 percent of Jefferson students had wounds from violent injury.18 In our fieldwork 10 years later, people on the street spontaneously lifted their shirts to show us the marks left by violence in the early 1990s.19
Sharpe’s funeral was held on Friday, November 29, at Messiah Baptist Church in Brooklyn. It was reported in The New York Times that Reverend Elijah Pope offered comfort to the mourners, who included some officials from the Board of Education.20 He then commented that many city agencies were missing: “Do we have anyone here from the Mayor’s office? Do we have anyone from the Governor’s office? Anyone from the Police Department? From Lee Brown’s office?” None of those major city agencies was represented. The minister interpreted this as a sign of disrespect and lack of concern. Representatives of various agencies offered excuses to the press.
A newspaper report noted that a woman, who said she was Sharpe’s English teacher, read from an essay he had written: