3 BHS students arrested after school fight

Published 6:00 am Monday, January 24, 2005

Three Brookhaven High School students were arrested following afight in the school gymnasium after a ninth-grade basketball gameThursday night.

Police are not sure what caused the melee that pitted some BHSstudents against members of the Lawrence County basketball team,said Police Chief Pap Henderson. No one was injured, and the fightwas broken up shortly after it started in Lawrence County’s lockerroom area.

Two of the students arrested were not affiliated with the BHSbasketball team, but were members of the school’s football team,Henderson said. The third was the basketball team manager. Allthree are charged with disturbing the peace by fighting.

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The two football team members were arrested because they wereinvolved in the fight and “had no business being back there,”Henderson said.

The basketball team manager was arrested about 10 minutes afterthe fight in the parking lot, the chief said.

“He had been told his brother had been beaten up, and he cameover and started raising hell with four of my officers standingright there,” Henderson said. “His brother had not even been hurt.That’s what happens when you go off half-cocked with secondhandinformation.”

Brookhaven School District Superintendent Lea Barrett said thedistrict is also investigating the incident and “will takedisciplinary action in accordance with our school policy.”

“We’re always embarrassed when our behavior doesn’t live up toour normal level of sportsmanlike conduct, but we’re taking stepsto address that,” she said.

Thursday’s fight seems to be part of a continuing trend atBrookhaven-Lawrence County basketball games, Henderson said.

Last year, several Brookhaven and Lawrence County students andalumni were involved in a fight outside the Lawrence County HighSchool gymnasium.

“There seems to be a problem between Brookhaven and LawrenceCounty. I’m not going to tolerate it here in Brookhaven, and I’mquite sure that Monticello and Lawrence County authorities are notgoing to tolerate it over there,” Henderson said. “I can understanda rivalry, but that’s settled on the court or field. Any rivalryoff those areas, and my team will settle it.”

The chief said the time for law enforcement officers negotiatingbetween students at the rival schools has past. Any furtherdisturbances will be handled in the courts, he said.

“The talking is over with. The next talking will be before thejudge,” Henderson said. “I’m tired of it, and I’m not going to putup with it anymore. I mean that.”

A varsity basketball game between the two schools is scheduledfor Tuesday at BHS.

Henderson said Lawrence County residents are always welcome atBrookhaven sporting events but cautioned them, as well asBrookhavenites, that enough is enough.

“I’m not going to tolerate it from students, parents or fanswithout doing something about it,” he said.

The varsity teams will meet again Feb. 1 at LCHS.

Lawrence County Sheriff Joel Thames said he also will nottolerate inappropriate behavior and will be increasing security atthe game.

“We will be out in force, and a disturbance will not betolerated,” he said.

Barrett called Thursday night’s fight an “isolated incident” andsaid it was not a trend or continuing problem.

“This is not a rivalry run amok. Any time you have events, youhave a chance for an incident,” she said.

Barrett said the administrations of the two schools have a goodrelationship and are coordinating in the investigation and on waysto prevent future altercations.