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Metal Detectors to Be Used in Pasadena Middle, High Schools : Safety: A shooting in February prompts board of education to take action to keep weapons off campuses.

March 02, 1995|KEVIN UHRICH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In response to an on-campus shooting at John Muir High School, Pasadena schools will use metal detectors at all public high schools and middle schools.

At its Tuesday meeting, the board of education voted 5 to 0 to buy the detectors and to set up a toll-free telephone line to take confidential tips about weapons and violence on campus.

Use of metal detectors and an 800 number to stem on-campus violence was first proposed in 1993 by Jarado Blue, Pasadena schools police chief.

However, that recommendation was never presented to the board, Supt. Vera Vignes said.

"I didn't think we needed them then," Vignes said of the metal detector proposal.

Then came the Feb. 16 shooting, the first on a Pasadena school campus.

At 10:30 a.m. that day, Margarito Reynoso, 20, of Pasadena was driving past Muir High, shouting gang slogans, Pasadena police said. Three Muir students standing nearby on school grounds shouted back. Reynoso reportedly got out of his car and climbed a 10-foot chain-link fence to get at the three boys.

One of the boys, a 15-year-old, opened fire with a handgun. Reynoso was taken to a local hospital where he was listed in good condition. The gunman was taken into police custody and booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.

That same day, another Muir High student was stabbed while walking near campus in an unrelated incident.

So far this year, eight high school students were recommended for expulsion for carrying weapons on campus, up from two during the last school year, Vignes said.

"We have some new realities in terms of security," said Pasadena School Board President George Van Alstine. "The new reality is there is a new boldness out there. We need to be protective and address that."

Vignes now is recommending the detectors. She also has hired five additional unarmed security aides at a cost of $12,500 through the end of the year to patrol the perimeter of the 49-acre Muir campus. Only Muir High, located in a Northwest Pasadena neighborhood long troubled by gang violence, has been singled out for extra patrols. The new security aides will complement the seven armed district police officers who patrol all district schools.

With Tuesday's vote, Pasadena became the fifth school district in the San Gabriel Valley to purchase and use metal detectors to search students for weapons.

The Hacienda La Puente Unified School District in La Puente bought metal detectors last November. The devices are used only when a student is suspected of carrying a concealed weapon, Assistant Supt. John Rieckewald said.

School officials in Azusa, Baldwin Park and Temple City said their districts have bought the devices but do not use them.

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