Open gym nights suspended after shooting

March 26, 2010 7:59:44 PM PDT
Gangs and guns are forcing many Bay Area communities to reevaluate how to keep people safe. In San Pablo, a popular after-school sports program has been shut down after somebody fired 15 rounds outside a school this week.

The decision to cancel the program came from the San Pablo Department of Parks and Recreation. Ironically, the basketball program was created to keep kids from getting into trouble.

Bullet holes marked the walls on Wednesday night around 8:30 while several teens played basketball inside the school gym.

"Officers got a call of shots fired and responded and found 15 casings outside the gym," said San Pablo Capt. Walt Schuld.

No one was hurt and the shooter left before police arrived.

The gym at Walter Helms Middle School is leased every Wednesday night by the Department of Parks and Recreation as part of their open gym program. It is one of many afterschool activities for kids in the community.

The school is in the West Contra Costa Unified School District where Charles Ramsey is a board member. He says maybe it is time to reexamine the agreement between the district and Park and Rec.

"We'll strengthen it. I think we want to continue to serve students and to serve families and we don't want to let what we think is an isolated incident to stop something that is worthwhile and useful for our community and our students," said Ramsey.

The open gym program has been temporarily canceled.

"We're going to look at it very hard and if we need more security, we will have more security and we're going to go from there," said Schuld.

Evangeline Gardner has a grandson at the school.

"There are too many guns. Everybody's got a gun. It used to be when people got upset with each other, they either fussed at each other, yelled at each other, cussed at each other, or punched each other out. But now it's guns and knives, especially guns," said Gardner.

While ABC7 was at the campus Friday reporting on this story, security ran toward a group of kids who were trying to get into the closed campus. They did not attend that school.

The district is trying to make the school a safer place. A brand new gym will open soon with the help of bond money. The gym will have surveillance cameras which will be linked to the San Pablo Police Department.

It is not clear if and when they will bring the open gym program back.

The bond comes from Measure J which was on the ballot in 2005. The cost to rebuild the new gym and the new school was $60 million.


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