|Stampede, fights and gunfire mar Stephenson, MLK football game|
The recent football game between two rival DeKalb County schools—Stephenson High and Martin Luther King, Jr. High—turned violent as fights and gunfire broke out at James R. Hallford Stadium in Clarkston, On Common Ground News has learned.
The melee happened during Stephenson’s Oct. 26 homecoming.
DeKalb Police Officer K. Graham was injured in the fray and several students were pepper-sprayed as the Tactical Response Team moved in to control the crowds during the third quarter of the game.
Police said Rashard Grier, a 17-year-old Stephenson High student, was arrested after head butting Graham, who was trying to break up a fight between Grier and another student.
Grier said he tried telling police he didn’t do anything and was being attacked, according to a police report.
“We were constantly breaking up fights and as soon as we broke up one fight, another one would start,” Officer P.M. Mitchell said in his police report. “I saw Officer Graham in the crowd trying to stop the fight between two subjects, the crowd was so large that I lost sight of Officer Graham for a few seconds.”
EMS workers took Officer Graham to DeKalb Medical Center in Decatur. Grier was checked by EMS workers, arrested and taken to the DeKalb County Jail on charges of simple battery, obstruction of an officer, which is a felony, and affray.
“As the third quarter ended, you could hear all these sirens heading toward the stadium,” said Willie Smith, Jr., a spectator who has attended high school football games across the state for 12 years. “When I got out of the stands to leave, I saw groups of students fighting each other and police spraying mace because some students were not following orders. You had to basically push your way through the crowd and one kid even threw a smoke bomb. It was crazy out there.”
Smith said as he hurried to his vehicle, a stampede broke out as gunfire erupted.
“Pow, pow, pow! It sounded like an automatic handgun. I ducked, hopped in my truck and got out of there,” said Smith.
Jarrett Maynard, who was attending the game with Stephenson alumni, said several students were smoking marijuana in front of police.
“The police were doing all they could, but with the crowd stampeding to get away from the gunshots, things just got out of hand,” Maynard said.
Stephenson lost the Oct. 26 game 28 – 49. Tensions between the schools have escalated during football seasons.
The undefeated MLK, currently ranked No. 2 in the state, has beat Stephenson four times in the last seven years.
Last year, Stephenson lost to MLK 50-49, and was defeated 26-24 in 2010.
The two rivals made the news in 2011 when 25 Stephenson buses were vandalized with the initials MLK sprayed on them days before the two teams played.
MLK has faced its share of adversity in recent months.
In August, reports surfaced that then-head football coach Michael Carson was “sexting” nude photographs of himself to Davida Bishop, the mother of two of MLK’s players.
Bishop showed other people in the stadium the nude photographs of the coach during a game. Bishop said the coach sent her the unwanted photos via text message.
Assistant Coach Robert Freeman now serves as the interim head coach.
In early October, a female student said that several boys raped her at the school.
Everett Patrick, who was principal, was transferred to Pleasantdale Elementary in Doraville and was replaced by Vivian Terry, who now serves as the school’s interim principal.
The alleged rape is under investigation by schools officials.