UNION CITY (KPIX 5) — Monday was the first day back at a Union City Elementary School where two young boys were fatally shot early on a recent Saturday morning as they sat in a van in the school parking lot.
“I walked my son directly to his classroom today for the first time in years.” said Jackie Z., a parent at Searles Elementary School where the boys, ages 11 and 14, were murdered on November 23rd.
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Dozens of parents were waiting for the bell to ring and walked across campus to their children’s classrooms to pick them up.
“I’m concerned that even though people in the community say it didn’t happen during school hours, it happened after hours. But it happened so close to home and that those people have not been caught, that’s alarming to know that that’s in our neighborhood,” Jackie said.
The shootings of two boys has shaken the community to the core. Surveillance video from a neighbor showed multiple flashes as shots were fired into the van as it tried to drive away.
“It’s happened now at our own school in our own community, so it’s very nerve wracking,” Jackie said.
Her son, who is 9 years old, said the incident was discussed at the beginning of the day.
“My teacher had a conversation with the whole class. Not about what happened, but more of the feelings
of everyone. Somehow one of my classmates, it happened that she is the cousin of one of the boys who got shot,” the boy said.
School officials say only the 11-year-old was a student in the New Haven School District, and he did not
But because it happened here, extra counselors were on hand to help students, their families and staff cope
with grief and fear.
“There were some staff and students who were really kind of struggling,” said John Mattos, a school district spokesman. “That hits very close to home. And we planned for that. We had a number of folks there for support at the site.”
“It’s really sad that this is happening at such an amazing school where we have such a good school
community,” said parent Raajna Naidu.
She is afraid school shootings have become too common and almost normalized.
“How do you explain to a 5 and a 7 year old that this is a possibility at their school? That’s the scariest part as a parent, is explaining that to your child,” said Naidu.
School officials want to reassure the community that the shooting was an outside event and not in any way related to some sort of conflict on campus.
Union City Police were not available for comment. A spokesman for the department said the investigation into the shooting is ongoing.
No suspects have been identified. Police have not ruled out the possibility that the shooting was gang-related.