A Florida high school student is in critical condition at a Tampa area hospital after he shot himself in front of other students in class Tuesday.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the boy was 15 years old and shot himself in the head at Lecanto High School during a freshman English class.
22 students were in the class at the time of the shooting and many were shaken by the event.
“The students were distraught,” Lindsay Blair, a spokesperson for the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office said. “Nothing like this has ever happened before at this school.And he was a friend, a classmate. They were obviously shaken up, as anyone would be.”
The student was later identified as Thomas Fink and a GoFundMe account was created to help pay for his medical bills.
“Update on Tommy: Good news from the doctor!! He was able to open one eye, wiggle his toes, and move his legs on his own,” a statement on the GoFundMe account read. “He gave a thumbs up and a peace sign with both hands! His pupils are working and dilating, and the second ct scan showed no further signs of swelling. Keep him in your prayers!”
Cover Photo Credit: Walter/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)
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About the AuthorRich Robinson is the CEO and publisher of Rise News. He is also a journalist and a native of Miami. Robinson graduated from the University of Alabama and can be followed on Twitter @RichRobMiami.
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By Marcus Frias
This story was originally published in May of 2015.
Getting high grades and being involved is a necessity for this generation as gaining acceptance to college is getting harder and harder.
For some students, though, their hard work and commitment to their education could fall flat due to their citizenship status.
“At school, I didn’t talk about my citizenship status,” Giancarlo Tejeda, a senior at Miami Lakes Educational Center said. “It wasn’t something that I wanted to define me and it wasn’t something that could be fixed by complaining about it so I just kept quiet.”
Giancarlo and his family left their native town of Bucaramanga, Colombia in December of 2000, when he was just three years old.
His parents left behind noble careers to pursue a new life in Miami, Florida.
“My parents had to give up their careers in Colombia to become simple laborers. My father was a college professor and my mother was a primary school teacher,” Tejeda said.
In America, his father found jobs in construction and his mother often found herself cleaning houses.
They applied for asylum in the United States, but to no avail, and thus became undocumented immigrants.
According to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center, unauthorized immigrants comprised 4.8% of Florida’s population in 2012 and in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the foreign-born share of Florida’s population rose to 19.4%.
It is no question that the state of Florida is home to many immigrants—many of which are hard workers like Tejeda and his family.
Giancarlo’s Advanced Placement Literature teacher, Neyda Borges, makes it known that these students are not just a number through her work and advocacy for immigrant students.
“We need to see and hear the human stories. We need to meet these children and these parents,” Borges said. “People need to see that these undocumented immigrants are not monsters or criminals, but that they are our friends and neighbors.“
Determined to be more than just a number and his legal standing- a DREAMer with deferred action status- Tejeda focuses on his studies and extracurricular activities. Giancarlo challenged himself with a full schedule of college level courses and excelled.
As an aspiring biomedical engineer- a career that merges his natural altruism and love for the sciences- Tejeda recently committed to the University of Florida.
Through local and even national support he has raised enough money to attend UF for the first year.
His teacher, Borges helped him create a page where the community could chip in at https://www.gofundme.com/rb6p5dtg.
He’s excited, but he says that he still feels frustrated about his legal status.
“Despite not being considered legal in the eyes of the United States Government, we are still part of the communities that we live in. I feel as I always have felt about my legal status – frustrated,” Tejeda said.
Borges’ admits that she’s learned of many activists groups and organizations that are out there to support DREAMers like Tejeda.
“There is a lot being done; but, is it enough? I don’t know how to answer that,” Borges said. “That’s a political question. Luckily, I am not a politician. So, as a teacher, the answer is that it is never enough.”
Students like Giancarlo are eligible for in-state tuition to UF or any other state university thanks to a correction by the Florida Legislature in 2014, but many like the Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Schools who is no stranger to advocating for high achieving immigrant students, remain adamant in their quest to make sure that change happens sooner than later.
“A bright student like Giancarlo deserves the chance to fulfill his college dreams,” Superintendent of Schools Alberto M. Carvalho said. “Like many of us, his family came here for better opportunities. We must enact reform immediately.”
Giancarlo and his family are thankful for the support from political leaders and local and national media, but remain aware that the future is untold.
They hope that an easier route to citizenship will one day be a reality and that their obstacles may serve as inspiration to others.
The Miami-Dade County Public School system has almost 350,000 active students and inevitably there are more students like Tejeda who haven’t spoken out yet.
Tejeda said that his message to them is important.
“Don’t be afraid. There is a whole community out there supporting you,” the 18- year old Tejeda said. “You will find that many people will support you if you speak out and make your situation known. If enough of us speak out, our voices will be heard everywhere and it will incite change.”
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.
Cover Photo Credit: Giancarlo Tejeda/ FacebookPost Views: 31
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Update: 11:01 AM EST
All Los Angeles schools have been closed for the day after a bomb threat was received by local authorities according to the Los Angeles Times.
The action has been taken “in an abundance of caution” according to school board president Steve Zimmer.
Teachers and other support staff are being asked to stay home and parents have been asked to pick up their children, if they have been dropped off at school already.
According to LA school superintendent Ramon Cortines, the threats were broad and involved multiple schools.
Cortines also said that he has asked local law enforcement authorities to safety check every school in the district.
Schools will be closed for the rest of the day.
According to CNN, the FBI is also involved in the investigation.
This is breaking news. Stay with Rise News.
All Los Angeles schools are closed Tuesday after a threat was called in, LAPD confirms to @BuzzFeedNews
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) December 15, 2015Post Views: 49
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North Miami Police Have “No Specific Policies” For Dealing With People With Disabilities, FOIA Request Finds
A public records request from RISE NEWS has found that the North Miami police department does not any “specific policies” in terms of how its officers interact with people with disabilities, including autism.
We first requested the information on July 25th and were emailed the findings today.
The request was prompted by the police shooting of unarmed therapist Charles Kinsey three times in the leg in a North Miami street.
The officer who shot Kinsey, Jonathan Aledda was apparently aiming at Kinsey’s autistic patient according to the Miami-Dade police union president.
The shooting made national headlines and brought the issue of racial bias and violence against disabled people into the fore.
In responding to our request of any and all policies and procedures that the North Miami police department may have in dealing with people with disabilities, Major Franzia Brea said that “There are no specific policies regarding this topic.”
You can see for yourself:
While this new disclosure underscores the fact that North Miami has no specific policies dealing with people with disabilities, that doesn’t mean that their officers aren’t familiar with the issue.
North Miami police spokeswoman Natalie Buissereth told RISE NEWS that roughly 85% to 95% of North Miami officers have received Crisis Intervention Team Policing training (CIT).
CIT is often cited by police departments as a top local training method for officers to learn how to deal with people with mental illnesses.
Of course mental illness and developmental disability are two different things.
The CIT training only includes a small section (one page) about Autism and other developmental disabilities.
While the CIT training may be lacking, at least it is something.
But it is not at all clear that Aledda even received CIT training.
His personnel jacket does not include information regarding the training.
“If you don’t see it, it’s not there,” Buissereth said of Aledda’s missing CIT training certificate in his personnel jacket.
While much of the focus of the shooting has rightly been focused on Charles Kinsey, perhaps we should start asking why our police officers aren’t being properly trained on how to deescalate situations with people who have disabilities.
Do you have a news tip about excessive police force involving people with disabilities? Send us a news tip to firstname.lastname@example.org.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.Cover Photo Credit: Rich Robinson/ RISE NEWSPost Views: 213
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