Tulsa Public Schools Implements Tighter Security Procedures

Monday, September 28th 2009, 9:37 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Tulsa Public Schools are grappling with grief and strengthening student security in wake of the shooting death of a Memorial High School freshman last week.

On Friday afternoon, 16-year-old Jacob Barnes was shot to death as he was walking home from a bus stop. It happened at 33rd Street North and Lansing in front of children.

9/25/2009  Related story: Tulsa Teen Shot After Getting Off School Bus Dies

Tulsa Public Schools reports the shooting hasn't just affected Memorial High School. It has caused a ripple effect of fear and rumors of violence throughout the district.

Tulsa Public Schools superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard describes the mood at Memorial High School as fairly calm, but very emotional.

Chasity Starks shared a class with 16-year-old Jacob Barnes.

"Sad is not even enough words to explain it," said Chasity Starks, Barnes' classmate.

9/28/2009  Related Story: Tulsa Students Deal With Classmate's Death

"I was with the faculty this morning and I can tell you that there were a lot of tears," said Dr. Keith Ballard, TPS Superintendent.

Tulsa Public Schools called in grief counselors to help the staff and students cope with what Dr. Keith Ballard called a "horrific loss."

While some tended to students' emotional and mental health, Tulsa Public School Police were on guard to ensure their physical safety.

"In instances like this, fear becomes a problem and rumors become rampant. Without taking anything for granted, we're trying to address as many of those as we can," said Chief Gary Ruddick, TPS Police.

The entire district police force was out to boost security and do their part to dispel rumors of possible violence or retaliation.

"We try to jump on that and dispel it as quickly as we can and let everyone know that there's not any substance to it. Dispelling rumors before they go too far is probably the best defense that we have," said Police Chief Gary Ruddick.

"We are going to increase security until we believe that every campus is a safe place. And we do believe it's a safe place right now," said Dr. Keith Ballard.

Although the rumors were rampant Monday, the TPS police chief says none of them were substantiated. But he says officers will continue to be on high alert, as long as TPS principals feel they need extra security.

Tulsa Police are hopeful anyone with more information will come forward. If you know anything about the shooting, call Crime Stoppers at 596-COPS. You can remain anonymous.

9/28/2009  Related Story: Tulsa Police Receive Crime Stoppers Tips In Deadly Shooting

9/26/2009  Related story: Tulsa Woman Speaks Out On Nephew's Death