PINE BLUFF, Ark. – The city of Pine Bluff is still processing an unspeakable tragedy after a shooting involving two jr. high students at Watson Chapel.
Pine Bluff police said a 15-year-old targeted a fellow student – another 15-year-old boy that is currently at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
People in the city are reacting to the tragic news and waiting to see what comes next.
Mayor Shirley Washington commented on the shooting at Monday’s city council meeting, saying, “it was most devastating. We’re all devastated.”
She later added that the incident hits close to home, explaining that “the reality of [a school shooting] is driven home when it happens in your own community.”
Others in the city are still reeling from the unthinkable violence at the jr. high school.
For Pine Bluff Alderman Glen Brown, the pain is also personal.
“I’ve been in a tremble all day,” he said. “It affects me deeply.” Brown is related to the victim, a young student targeted by someone his own age.
“12, 13, 14 years old,” he added, “these are babies. They’re our future.”
Recent headlines in Central Arkansas have been filled with teenage shooting victims – a disturbing trend that Pine Bluff resident Kymara Seals says needs to change.
“We cannot use gun violence as a means of resolving conflict,” she said.
Seals is part of United Citizens of Pine Bluff, a group dedicated to public safety. She says she was in shock when she first heard the news. “My initial reaction was, ‘that can’t be’,” Seals said.
Her shock is echoed in the rest of the city, a community still coming to grips with what happened. Brown says his family is trying to figure out what comes next, and what to do while they wait for answers.
“I have nieces and nephews in the immediate area,” he said, “and some of them say they don’t really want to go to school right now.”
Watson Chapel Jr. High will hold classes virtually on Tuesday following the tragedy.