Police have increased presence at Lawrence High School following weekend homicide that involved two former students
photo by: Journal-World File
Updated at 6:57 p.m. Thursday, March 23, 2023
The Lawrence Police Department has increased its presence at Lawrence High School following a homicide over the weekend that involved two former LHS students.
Derrick Del Reed, 17, is charged with one count of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Kamarjay Shaw, 14, on Saturday. Reportedly, multiple people were at the scene of the shooting, but the Journal-World has not been able to confirm details.
District spokesperson Julie Boyle said that in the wake of the shooting, the Lawrence Police Department had increased its presence on the LHS campus and its patrols of the area. Boyle said the police are also investigating an incident that occurred at the school on Tuesday, in which two individuals who were not students in the district entered the building.
Boyle said a student opened an external door and let two individuals they believed to be students inside the building. She said another student saw them and alerted one of the school’s security officers that they were not students, and the security officer immediately engaged the two individuals, who left the building and the campus. She said the security officer reported what happened to the LHS school resource officer, and Lawrence police are investigating.
Lawrence police Sgt. Drew Fennelly said the LHS SRO immediately responded from within the school to a report of two trespassers in the building around 12:15 p.m. Tuesday. Fennelly said the suspects ran from the building, allegedly running westbound on 19th Street. He said multiple patrol officers responded to the area, but the suspects were not located.
Fennelly said the Lawrence police department increased its presence around LHS in light of the incident after consulting with district leaders. He said Lawrence police take student safety very seriously, and the department’s SROs and police commanders have been working closely with school district administration since the events unfolded.
The Journal-World asked if there were any other steps being taken with students or staff to address or prevent any additional conflict among students. Boyle said the most important thing the district does is build and strengthen relationships with its students and families.
“Our curriculum emphasizes social and emotional learning and helping students develop the interpersonal skills they need — self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision making — for their own personal safety and success in school and beyond,” Boyle said in an email.
Boyle added that staff and students practice and review school safety measures on a regular basis; work to foster open communication between home and school; and encourage students and families to help the district look out for one another by reporting any safety concerns to an adult at school or law enforcement. Boyle noted the incident with the unknown individuals in the school was promptly reported.
“We know that ‘see something, say something’ works,” Boyle said.
Boyle said the incident Tuesday was another reminder to staff and students of the importance of following all safety protocols, including not propping open doors or letting anyone into the building through a locked door. The Journal-World asked Boyle whether there is any indication that the two individuals Tuesday were involved at all in the dispute between Reed and Shaw. She said she did not have any other information about them, but they were not Lawrence district students, and repeated that police were investigating.
Boyle said both Reed and Shaw had previously attended LHS, but neither teen was currently attending. She said that according to an LHS administrator, Shaw last attended LHS in August of 2022 and Reed last attended LHS in the fall of 2021.
Boyle said the violence had been a shock to the school.
“Understandably, the news of the weekend gun violence has been a shock to our school community,” Boyle said. “Our thoughts are with the loved ones of both of these young people.”
Boyle said the district’s crisis response team is assisting LHS school mental health teams with supporting students’ and staff’s social and emotional needs, and the district’s priority will always be ensuring the safety and well-being of students and staff. She said safety is a 24/7, year-round focus for the district’s schools, and the district continues to work closely with law enforcement partners, and that school resource officers have strong relationships with students and staff, including high school security officers.