A Stephenson County high school turned into a crime scene after a series of fights broke out between students.
It made for a surreal scene at Freeport High on Friday as students brawled and three police agencies, including an armored vehicle, responded to help break it all up. Concerned parents crowded the main doors of the high school. The violence forced the school to go on hard lockdown.
“We do not normally go on hard lockdown due to a fight or situation like that,” said Freeport School District Superintendent Mike Schiffman. “However, when there were multiples ones we decided that maybe it was important to go on a hard lockdown.”
A whole line of students and their parents walked out in the middle of the day, fearing for their safety. Freeport Police believe it may have started as a fight between two girls. But, then a second fight involving nearly a dozen students broke out just after 11am. Several smaller fights broke out throughout the school. Freeport Police, Illinois State Police, the Stephenson County’s Sheriff’s Department, and a TAC team responded to restore order.
“[It’s] depressing to see that Freeport Police Department [is] here,” said Freeport resident Brian Curry. “Back in the day, we never had that type of problems with the police departments. The whole temperament of people has changed. We didn’t have people bringing guns to school [or] knives. These fights, continuous fights, chronic fights… [it’s] just a different type of atmosphere.”
In all, police arrested 10 students on a host of misdemeanor charges. Schiffman blamed what he called events happening outside of the school, that somehow made its way inside. “Don’t bring in the violence in with you. We always tell our teachers and students, ‘once you cross that threshold at the door, we’re going to try to make it the best 8, 7 hours of your day.’ So, we ask for that same cooperation from the community and the students.”
Curry adds that he hopes to see a change moving forward at his alma mater. “I hope to see that people’s disposition changes, their attitudes change, [and] their focus in life change. One day, it will be the old Freeport High, the old Pretzels.”
Freeport Police say no students or staff were seriously injured during the fights.