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After Second Shooting, Explanations Come Harder

Violence: Parents, students and educators try to assure one another that they can carry on.


EL CAJON, Calif. — The first time a local high school was shot up by a student, Leonardo Morreno was able to explain it away to his 6-year-old daughter as the isolated act of a disturbed young man.

The second time, the explanation didn't come so easily.

"This is more bad," Morreno said Friday as he vacuumed his van in this working-class suburb about 15 miles east of San Diego.

A day after a Granite Hills High School student allegedly shot up his campus, injuring at least nine people, parents found themselves walking down a sad and familiar road, talking to their children about balancing fear against the need to carry on with life.

And they struggled with the incongruity of two shootings in the same month in the same school district.

"I don't think we can explain why it's happened twice," said Eve Stine, president of the Foothills Secondary Council PTA, which covers all 12 high schools in the Grossmont Union High School District. "But I sent my son to school today, and everybody else that I spoke to did, because we realize that our schools are still very safe."

In El Cajon, there was no uniform reaction to the Granite Hills shooting beyond the initial shock. Some parents lashed out at what they perceive to be a lack of safety and demanded more security.

Others tried to define the shooting as yet another isolated incident improbably close to the site of the March 5 killings at Santana High School, about six miles away. But they wondered whether it was more than coincidence. No one knew.

"I guess I felt after the first shooting at Santana that it was horrible but that it could have happened anyplace in the country, and I didn't feel fear," Stine said. "But after it happened at Granite yesterday, I think the feeling is very different."

Classes were canceled at Granite Hills High on Friday, but went on as scheduled at Grossmont's other campuses. District officials declined to let reporters interview teachers about how they would deal with the issue a second time.

Jose Rodriguez, 16, a sophomore at Santana High School, said his teachers didn't discuss the shootings in class Friday.

"I don't think the teachers even want to explain it to us because they don't want us talking about it," he said. "They just want us to get back to work. I want to get back to work too. Talking about this isn't going to help me graduate."

Outside El Cajon Valley High School, about two miles west of Granite Hills High, student Destiny Salter said the shooting came up in one of her classes.

"We talked about it for a whole period," she said. "I know a lot of people who are worried. I'm not worried at all."

Schools Supt. Granger B. Ward said the district did not issue any special directives to teachers Friday. He said they have received training in dealing with students after violent incidents, but that it was up to the teachers to determine when and how to broach the subject.


Times staff writers Monte Morin in Santee, Doug Smith in El Cajon and Christine Hanley in Orange County contributed to this story.

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