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Moment of silence for victim denied

students protest

March 19, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Police were called to Waynesboro Area Senior High School on Thursday morning when a group of about 20 students protested the administration's denial of a request for a schoolwide moment of silence for a former student who was shot to death in Hagerstown on Sunday.

The protest took place outside the school's main entrance before classes started for the day.

Although some students made remarks to police when they arrived, there were no serious incidents, Borough Police Chief Ray Shultz said.

Police were called to the school as a precautionary measure, school officials said.

Shultz said three officers from his department responded. They arrived at the school at 7:46 a.m. and left at 8:16 a.m., he said.

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School Board President Larry Glenn said the moment of silence was denied because Jonathan M. Dennis, the shooting victim, was no longer a student.

Dennis, 19, of Cleveland Avenue in Waynesboro, was shot to death while walking with a group of people outside an apartment complex in Hagerstown on Sunday morning.

Hagerstown police issued an arrest warrant for Azaniah Blankumsee, 25, address unknown, in connection with the shooting. Blankumsee was still being sought Thursday.

Glenn said the protesting students were allowed to hold their moment of silence at the flagpole outside the school building. When it was over, some went into the building for classes while others left the school grounds. Those who left were listed as absent for the day, Glenn said.

Shultz also said there were reports that some of the protesting students wore T-shirts emblazoned with the letter J in honor of Dennis.

On Tuesday, school officials said all Waynesboro Area School District schools were put under enhanced security status because of rumors of threats to some students in the wake of Dennis' death.

Such lockdowns require that all doors leading into the school buildings be locked, that visitors be escorted to the main offices by security personnel hired by the district and that teachers keep their classroom doors closed.

The enhanced security was lifted Wednesday.

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