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Dorsey High Locked Down During 2 Police Searches

March 29, 2003|Jill Leovy | Times Staff Writer

Dorsey High School students were kept inside their classrooms for nearly four hours Friday as police grappled with two unrelated crimes that spilled onto the campus about the same time.

No one was hurt in the incidents, which simultaneously involved a manhunt and a shooting investigation. In the end, two people were arrested.

The complicated sequence of events began shortly before 9 a.m., when police conducting a series of parole searches in the 3500 block of Chesapeake Avenue just east of the school confronted a parolee in his frontyard, said Sgt. John Pasquariello, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department.

Police said the 24-year-old man reached for something in his waistband, then ran toward the school, with officers in pursuit. He hopped the back fence and disappeared.

Believing that he was armed, police ordered the campus locked down, set up a perimeter in the surrounding blocks and called in members of the SWAT team, aided by Los Angeles school district police.

Students remained in classrooms and teachers were told to stick to their usual classroom routines as dozens of officers combed the campus.

About 11:20 a.m., a man was spotted on campus hiding under a parked car. He popped out, jumped the fence and ran north across Jefferson Boulevard into a neighborhood. Police with dogs surrounded him.

In the course of the arrest, a police dog bit the suspect for reasons that remained unclear. An ambulance took him away.

While this was going on, some locked-down students contacted school police, saying that there had been a shooting nearby and that the suspects were students on campus.

Police could not verify the claim because no shooting had been reported to them. But a search of one of the students' lockers turned up two loaded guns, "one with a round ready to be fired in the chamber," Pasquariello said. Police arrested the locker's owner, a 17-year-old student, as he sat in class.

LAPD officials said the parole sweeps were part of the investigation into the slaying of 13-year-old Joey Swift, who died a short distance to the north as he left church on Sunday.

By Friday night, police said, the sweeps had netted the names of two suspects: James Bartel Collier, 24, and Dwayne Deshon Pearson, 25. Both were believed to still be in the area, police said. The manhunt by more than 50 LAPD officers and parole officers continued into the night.

Anyone with information is asked to call LAPD homicide detectives at (213) 473-0444.

Meanwhile, police said the man they were pursuing on campus Friday is on parole for a weapons-related conviction, but is not a suspect in Swift's death.

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