California school district considers using metal detectors at basketball games

Jan. 25--Gunshots fired outside a crowded gymnasium have prompted the Fresno Unified School District to consider using metal detectors at high school basketball games.

The Bullard High School campus went into lockdown Friday night, and a varsity basketball game between Bullard and archrival Edison High School was briefly interrupted as police searched for the shooter.

No one was hit, but police found a gun and several spent shell casings on campus.

Metal detectors to screen crowds were used for the first time at Fresno Unified football games last season. Now, Fresno Unified's administrative leaders plan to discuss metal detectors, as well as other security measures, at basketball games, district spokeswoman Susan Bedi said Saturday.

Michelle Arax Asadoorian, the trustee from the Bullard area, supports the idea.

"When you're talking about safety, anything we can do to protect the crowd watching a game is a good idea," she said.

Two Fresno police officers and two campus assistants were assigned to Friday night's Bullard-Edison game, Bedi said. In addition, administrative staff members from both schools attended, she said.

But some Bullard parents like Carrie Zulewski said that wasn't enough security.

"I'm not too keen about metal detectors," Zulewski said. "But there should be more police during the games and more lighting on campus."

Zulewski said she learned of the shooting from her daughter's text messages. In recent months, the campus has been the target of vandalism and thieves, she said.

"I will still let my children attend the games, but I know I will be a little more apprehensive," Zulewski said. "I'll tell them to hit the floor if anything happens."

Police Chief Jerry Dyer said Saturday police still did not know who fired the shots, or why.

"We are not certain who is responsible for that shooting at this point," Dyer said. "But there is an individual that we have identified that we are looking for that may be involved or at least have information in terms of who may be responsible."

Dyer declined to identify the individual.

Dyer said officers at the scene Friday night found "a substantial number of shell casings. ...

"We also found a firearm in a nearby trash can."

Dyer declined to give details about the gun.

He said it hasn't been determined whether there is a match between the gun and shell casings.

The shooting occurred shortly after 9 p.m., with another half to play in the Knights-Tigers game (eventually won by Edison, 63-51). Dyer praised Fresno Unified's decision to keep fans inside the gym until the end of the game.

"The last thing we want is a bunch of people running out of the gymnasium and not only becoming potential victims but also stepping on evidence," Dyer said. "... It's important that we're able to get there, secure the scene, start our investigation and then start releasing people."

Dyer said the Police Department had school resource officers inside the gymnasium when the shooting occurred. He said Police Department and Fresno Unified officials will meet to discuss whether additional security measures are necessary for athletic contests.

Bullard and Edison are members of the Tri-River Athletic Conference and have long been intense rivals.

"Any time you have schools that are competing, and they're rivals, you have individuals coming to those games that are potentially in gangs or have grudges against individuals," Dyer said.

"There's a potential for violence, and there's a potential for gun violence. That's why we have the presence of school resource officers at all of those campuses and at all of those games, whether it be football or basketball."