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Police step in when fight breaks out

Woodbury police kept an eye on locations like Potawatomi Park earlier this month after word got out that a fight that broke out among a small group of Woodbury Junior High students. The incident may have carried over to nearby neighborhoods. Staff photo by Hank Long

Woodbury police are expected to charge as many as five juveniles and two adults who were allegedly involved in a feud that started at Woodbury Junior High School and then spread into nearby neighborhoods earlier this month.

The fight, which police said started outside the school on Monday, May 4, was quickly put to a stop by a Woodbury police officer working as a school resource officer. But the feud, which was between a few female juveniles became much more serious later that night in Maplewood, Woodbury police Capt. Steve Wills said.

The expected charges will range from disorderly conduct to assault, Wills said.

Parents who saw the first initial fight break out on May 4 said it began near a car that was parked in front of the school shortly after school was dismissed for the day. A small group of girls standing near the parked car began to physically attack each other, and the school resource officer physically stepped in to stop the girls from fighting.

The participants in the scuffle dispersed and the officer then followed up with a formal investigation of the incident, Wills said.

Later that evening Maplewood police responded to an incident involving some of the same individuals involved in the fight outside of Woodbury Junior High. Woodbury police said that several juveniles and a few adults, who were either friends or acquaintances to the juveniles were also involved in the feud, which was believed to have been carried out in nearby south Maplewood and in Woodbury's Potawatomi Park, which is near the school, Wills said.

The WJH school resource officer has interviewed students involved in the fight and was expected to help complete an investigation into the incident, Wills said.

"At this point, (school and police officials have) called all the participants into the school with parents, and sat down and had conversations to try and mediate the situation," Wills said.

All of the students involved in the string of incidents received sanctions from the school, Wills said.

To serve as a precaution, Woodbury police had several patrol officers monitor the school grounds and nearby neighborhoods and parks for several days following the incident.

Concerns about safety for walkers

One parent, who wished not to be identified said she and other parents were concerned the ongoing feud was jeopardizing the safety of their own children, who are students at Woodbury Junior High and the adjacent Woodbury Elementary School and walk to and from school through the nearby neighborhoods.

The police presence decreased somewhat last week, but Wills said officers plan to continue to patrol schools around the city as the academic year winds down.

"Typically towards the end of the year, we try to have more of a presence around the school," Wills said last week. "But in particular this last week or two we have tried to have a stronger presence in the Woodbury Junior High area."

"We haven't had any more problems in the last week related to that incident up there, but we are telling our patrol officers if they have some time to get up to the area as the school year comes to an end."