Fourteen arrested in school fights

Published 11:40 pm Friday, September 14, 2007

NATCHEZ — Fourteen Natchez High School students were arrested Friday after three fights, two of which were related, Natchez Police Chief Mike Mullins said.

After first period Friday, at roughly 9 a.m., several students started fighting near the cafeteria, Mullins said.

The school resource officer broke that fight up using pepper spray, and other Natchez Police officers later arrived to assist him, Mullins said.

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“The school resource officer was by himself, alone, and when he tried to break it up, they wouldn’t stop,” Mullins said. “He had no other way of breaking it up on his own, so he used pepper spray.”

The spray is effective and does not injure students, Mullins said.

Several students were arrested at that time.

Then, at roughly 10 a.m., another fight broke out near the center of campus, Mullins said. That fight was related to the first, he said. Again, the resource officer and Natchez Police broke up the fight and arrested three students.

At approximately noon, in the cafeteria, one female student struck another, but that fight was not related to the earlier fights, Mullins said.

School officials signed affidavits for the arrest of the rest of the 14 students. All were charged with disturbing the peace by fighting.

All but one of the students are juveniles and were released to their parents Friday, Mullins said.

Lorenzo Chatman, 18, 416A Watts Ave, was held at the city jail on $487 bond Friday afternoon.

“The fight with the males has been ongoing with several individuals,” Mullins said. “Of course, their friends get involved. That’s what we had today, we believe. What the original fight was over, we have not determined that.”

The students will each be suspended from school for nine days, Natchez High School Principal James Loftin said.

Individual punishments may be lowered or increased, depending on what details school officials discover, he said.

“It’s all community-related,” Loftin said. “Stuff that happens in the community that comes to the school as a place to resolve it. When there is an incident at weekend social functions, we sometimes have spillover of it onto campus. Our school becomes a haven for resolution.

“We tell the students, ‘We can’t control what happens in your community, but we will make it a point to control the behavior of our students on campus.’”