A fatal shooting at a Maplewood High School graduation ceremony had more to do with the “community” than with the school, according to Ralph Thompson, assistant superintendent of student services for Metro schools.
“We all know things like this take place in the malls. They take place in churches,” Thompson said Tuesday. “This was not a school issue. It was not a Tennessee State University issue. It was not a Maplewood issue. It was not a Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools issue. Clearly this was a community issue.”
On Monday night, 21-year-old Andreus Taylor was shot in the face and killed at a Maplewood commencement ceremony, held at TSU’s Gentry Center.
In response to the shooting, security was stepped up at Tuesday night’s Pearl-Cohn High graduation, which also was held at Gentry Center. The final MNPS graduation ceremony to take place at the facility this year, the commencement for White’s Creek High, will also include the ramped-up measures.
Both the Pearl-Cohn and White’s Creek ceremonies were slated, as of Tuesday afternoon, to be patrolled by about 25 law enforcement officers, including TSU police and Metro plainclothes and flex-unit officers, Thompson said.
All attendees at both ceremonies were slated to be searched with metal detectors and wands. A total of 12 on- and off-duty Metro Police and TSU officers were inside and outside the Gentry Center on Monday night, when the shooting took place.
In addition to the measures at TSU, security will be heightened “to a degree” at all district ceremonies this year, Thompson said. Usually there are between eight and 10 officers, up to as many as 15, at Metro ceremonies.
Though security will be increased, Thompson said there are no indications that anything bad will happen — and no connection between MNPS and the Monday shooting. The victim in the shooting did have ties to gangs, according to both Thompson and Metro Police.
“I think that from the information we’ve been gathering, this was kind of destined to happen, whether it was at a supermarket or a community center,” Thompson said. “It just happened to be at a graduation.”
Metro Police are still pursuing “active leads” in identifying Taylor’s killer, according to a press release. A suspect police say matched the description of the gunman was apprehended Monday night, then later released after being found unconnected with the shooting.
Taylor was shot at close range as he was exiting the building, according to Metro Police. A bystander was also shot in the arm and treated at a nearby hospital, and minor injuries were reported when the crowd scrambled after shots were fired.