Student who took photo of gun at Grady explains how and when. But he says bigger question is ‘why’ behind incident.

Grady High student Joe Lavine shot this photo of the gun in the accidental shooting at Grady Wednesday. (Joe Lavine, Southerner)

Grady High student Joe Lavine shot this photo of the gun possibly involved in the accidental shooting at Grady High School In Atlanta on Wednesday. (Joe Lavine, The Southerner)

I asked Joe Lavine, the Grady High School student who photographed the gun that may have been used in yesterday’s shooting at the APS school, to tell us how he happened upon it. The photo has appeared in the AJC and on TV.

There was a concern on the blog that a student photographer was “roaming” the Grady campus in the midst of a lockdown after a 17-year-old girl shot herself accidentally in the leg Wednesday morning in a school courtyard.

I had suggestedthat the student photographer may have been crossing the courtyard en route to class.

Morgan Tukes, a 17-year-old senior, left the hospital Wednesday and was taken to the Fulton County jail, where she is charged with a felony — possession of a pistol by a minor — and three misdemeanors: carrying a weapon within a school safety zone, reckless conduct and disruption of a public school, APD spokesman Carlos Campos said. – See more at: http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/student-wounded-at-grady-high/nWbhG/#sthash.xx4QjLPq.dpuf
Morgan Tukes, a 17-year-old senior, left the hospital Wednesday and was taken to the Fulton County jail, where she is charged with a felony — possession of a pistol by a minor — and three misdemeanors: carrying a weapon within a school safety zone, reckless conduct and disruption of a public school, APD spokesman Carlos Campos said. – See more at: http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/student-wounded-at-grady-high/nWbhG/#sthash.xx4QjLPq.dpuf
Morgan Tukes, a 17-year-old senior, left the hospital Wednesday and was taken to the Fulton County jail, where she is charged with a felony — possession of a pistol by a minor — and three misdemeanors: carrying a weapon within a school safety zone, reckless conduct and disruption of a public school, APD spokesman Carlos Campos said. – See more at: http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/student-wounded-at-grady-high/nWbhG/#sthash.xx4QjLPq.dpuf

Joe Lavine is senior sports editor of the Grady High Southerner, which is a nationally acclaimed student publication.

Here is his response to how he got this photo:

I would love to clear some things up. Here’s what happened. I walked out into the courtyard, and the first person I saw was the girl, limping in obvious pain, toward the door that I had just exited. I assumed she had twisted her ankle… I asked if she was OK and she didn’t respond. She proceeded to rush through the door, and a custodian followed behind her to assist in escorting her to the nurse/ambulance.

The courtyard was occupied by only several groups of students who were all in gossip mode. From eavesdropping, I soon discovered that she had accidentally shot herself. I proceeded to walk toward my class, across the courtyard. Keep in mind, this is all within 10-15 minutes after the incident, before administrators even were aware, so obviously before the lockdown. Thank you for not jumping to conclusions; you were correct that it was during a class change.

I saw a crowd gathering on the edge of the pathway. They were all gazing down toward the gun, which was about 15 feet down a hill of monkey grass. Everyone was being cautious, remaining on the pathway; they had heard that the gun shot was an accident, so people were wary of the possibility that the gun was faulty. Then, I walked down and took the picture. The custodians were in the area and, from what I could tell, they began handling the situation (making sure students didn’t approach the gun, finding administrators).

I was impressed by this comment on your blog, which is almost entirely accurate: “The shooting happened in an outdoor area between buildings and kids were moving from place to place between classes. The photo was taken immediately after the shooting, before the lockdown as custodians were securing the area and notifying administrators.”

The only thing I would specify is that the photo was taken between five to 10  minutes after the shooting. I don’t think that quite constitutes “immediately.”

Though I understand it is important that I cleared this up, I think it is more important that we move on from my story and focus on the real issues at hand. Why did the student feel the need to bring a gun to school?

Is it possible to prevent these incidents without making the school a fortress? How can we use this incident to unify Grady students and cross racial boundaries?

What can we do to prevent teen gun/gang violence when that is all that many kids have grown up around?

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

73 comments Add your comment

Digger

February 28th, 2013
9:14 am

Smart kid. Kinda helps to balance out the ones that accidentally shoot themselves.

Atl Parent

February 28th, 2013
9:22 am

Mr. Lavine should be considered for scholarships by UGA’s Grady school of Journalism. Great work.

Maureen Downey

February 28th, 2013
9:26 am

@AtlParent, He’s impressive. I will probably be working for him in 10 years.
Maureen

Mountain Man

February 28th, 2013
9:28 am

“Why did the student feel the need to bring a gun to school?”

Good question. Good unanswerable question. The girl is not going to tell you the truth (especially if she brought it to school in oreder to commit murder).

Other questions include:

Where did she get the gun?
How did she get the gun?
Was the gun secured?
Was the gun legally obtained (not by her – by whoever she got it from)?
Was she aware of the seriousness of bringing a gun into a school?
Had she been bullied?

Mountain Man

February 28th, 2013
9:30 am

“How can we use this incident to unify Grady students and cross racial boundaries?”

There are racial boundaries at Grady? NO!

ND

February 28th, 2013
9:41 am

If only she had a gun, she could have defended herself from herself.

City of Decatur Parent

February 28th, 2013
9:50 am

Joe Lavine will definitely do well in whatever his chosen field. He’s a senior so he’s likely already written all of his college essays. Too bad, he’d get a ton of mileage out this.

Early

February 28th, 2013
9:53 am

10 – 15 minutes that is a long time for a class change. High Schools allow 5 to 7 minutes to change classes depending on the school. Either way he and the other students was outside of the classroom during instruction time. And for the Administrators not to be aware of a shooting for 10 15 minutes is also unacceptable. 10 – 15 minutes is not a short period of time for students to be unaccounted for during a school day. What if this student didn’t shoot herself but were instead shooting at other students would 10 – 15 minutes still pass before an administrator would be aware?

Private Citizen

February 28th, 2013
9:53 am

Commendation to student Joe Lavine for excellent report / writing. Impressive, honest, direct, sequential, good energy. Good luck on a great and successfully future doing good work. You’re “got it.”

Private Citizen

February 28th, 2013
9:58 am

ND, There is at least one website on the net where the participants have a particular genius for snide rejoinder to a terrible situation, if not linked threads of this mayhem. Your comment is hilarious.

Let’s hope the young lady’s injury is not serious and does not cripple her long term with lingering effects from injury. Poor kids, their minds are not yet matured. A lot of crazy stuff seems perfectly reasonable at her age, I well recall.

Private Citizen

February 28th, 2013
10:08 am

Mountain Man, She bought the gun at a gun shop in Cherokee County. (not really, that’s a jab).

Who cares where she got the gun. When I was a teen, my friend brought a gun to school. It was not loaded. It was pretty hilarious in that what happened is that after he showed the gun to the person who was bullying him and scared them, it was reported. Seemed to do the trick to fix the bullying. The headmaster called him into the office, had a talk with him, and told him to take the gun home. (ha!) No police… no swat team… no nuthin. My friend didn’t last too long at the school after that, quietly transferred to the lesser school next to a river. He liked to smoke pot. His mom created huge amounts of stress at home, too. There was probably something wrong with her. She was an irrational stress machine. Where did the gun come from? It came from home. Where do you think it came from. As far as the Grady HS Probably some boy gave it to her.

ND – let’s not forget Gady HS next to one of the best gun shot trauma treatment units in the world – at Grady Hospital. They might not know how to do many things there – you know, like the rest of the USA, like regular healthcare? Hello? But they’re specialists in gun shot trauma treatment.

Georgia

February 28th, 2013
10:10 am

Is shooting a photo of a gun that was involved in a shooting a violation of the zero tolerance rule by proxy? If students can be suspended for using their hands as guns in play during recess, then by all means this is an egregious violation of the zero tolerance rule. I think we need to reassemble the Dekalb School Board and get a valid opinion on this as soon as possible. The photographer belongs behind bars. The victim of the shooting needs reform school. And any and all parents involved need a few hours of watching a “scared straight” tv marathon to learn how to deal with savages and miscreants.

Problem solved in one tweet.

Private Citizen

February 28th, 2013
10:23 am

If you are going to shoot yourself in the leg, there’s probably not a better place in the world to do it than right next to Grady Hospital. Let’s hope and pray for the student’s full recovery and maybe some of her peers will see that “guns are dangerous.” She may have inadvertently made a valuable object lesson to her follow students.

Inman and Grady Safety

February 28th, 2013
10:26 am

“She said she didn’t know it was in there in her pocket because she just grabbed her jacket and didn’t know that it was in there,” Tukes’ mother said on Fox news.

James

February 28th, 2013
10:31 am

AJC.. hire this guy! great investigative reporting~

Maude

February 28th, 2013
10:50 am

I don’t buy that she didn’t know she had the gun. She meant to hurt or scare someone. I hope she gets some serious jail time for this. The parent should also get jail time.

Dwight

February 28th, 2013
10:50 am

Very impressive writing young man.

Inman and Grady Safety

February 28th, 2013
10:53 am

Her mother is arguing that she should not have any consequences that would hurt her chances at college.

Digger

February 28th, 2013
10:55 am

Look at that face. She could never lie.

catlady

February 28th, 2013
11:06 am

Sounds almost like a Law n Order episode. On it, a guy shoots and kills kids but he had told an aspiring journalist to be ready for something big to happen so the photojournalist was there with the camera and got it on film.

it's possible

February 28th, 2013
11:09 am

Maybe her mom wore her jacket the night before and left the gun in the pocket.

APS Parent

February 28th, 2013
11:13 am

Great reporting work by Joe Lavine, who is an outstanding young man and a credit to Grady High School.

Zero tolerance?

February 28th, 2013
11:13 am

So what will be the outcome of this situation? Given that boys are getting suspended from elementary school for pointing their index finger and saying pow, one would hope that a commensurate response would be made in this case.

Don’t forget that Plaxico Burress spent two years in prison after he shot himself in the leg with his own gun:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/23/nyregion/23plaxico.html?_r=0

V for Vendetta

February 28th, 2013
11:14 am

She didn’t know it was in her jacket?

Then the greater question is why was there a gun in her jacket, mom?

Sounds like a couple of morons at best.

Lolamon

February 28th, 2013
11:15 am

Good posts, but I just wanted to correct one misconception that seems to be a bit of a trend here – Grady High School is not located next to Grady Hospital – at all. They are in completely different areas of the city – about 2.4 miles apart (thanks Google). Grady High School is in the Midtown/Virginia Highland area – along the southern border of Piedmont Park, and the hospital is farther downtown – near the Edgewood/Sweet Auburn area.

Billy Ray

February 28th, 2013
11:16 am

Don’t know why he’d want to go to UGa’s journalism school when he’s getting a real-world education here in Atlanta. He should go to GSU and learn to become a real journalist.

Maureen Downey

February 28th, 2013
11:19 am

@It’s, Mom said in TV interview that the family had no guns.
Maureen

Private Citizen

February 28th, 2013
11:22 am

The clumsiness of this student might make one question the precision required for the Sandy Hook exploit in the country that is internationally famous for attacking itself, as is commented outside of the USA on the interwebs.

Private Citizen

February 28th, 2013
11:25 am

Anytime is a good time for attending a good solid forgiving community college, paying cash for tuition – no debt, and building a track record and grade point average before applying to the college / university of choice.

Private Citizen

February 28th, 2013
11:32 am

BillyRay, Both UGA and Georgia State will required him to take the “Regent’s Test” to prove he can write a 5 paragraph essay, something unique to Georgia. I guess the rationale was to head off the embarrassment of the state giving awarding a 4 year degree to a student that can navigate scan tron tests. So they use the force of law to require every student to prove that they do not need remediation. If you have a 4.0 GPA, a 1600 score on the SAT, and are in the honor’s program, you still have required to prove you can write a high school essay. In my opinion, it an error to apply this requirement to every college student in the Georgia University System. It is basically a form of harassment to highly functioning students who have already documented their proficiency.

mystery poster

February 28th, 2013
11:35 am

@Private Citizen
Not all college students in GA take the Regents Exams. My daughter was exempted from them, I believe it was due to her SAT scores, but it may have been a combination SAT and GPA.

Private Citizen

February 28th, 2013
11:45 am

ReDux, Someone should clean the hill-Billies and hill-Betties out of the upper policy reaches of the Regent’s University of Georgia system, and strap that Regent’s 5-paragraph Essay Test onto their back like a rock and make them carry it out the door and throw it back into the fishing pond where they brought it from. If you need an essay test, put it on the exit out of high school. You’ve got no business harassing university students with this high school activity. No one else does it anywhere. and if you don’t take their sacred “Regent’s Test” they’ll cancel your class registration. Morons in Georgia absolutely live to cover-their-ass CYA – pardon me – and harass people instead of having intelligent policy.

I mean really, I must be losing some marbles. Do undergraduate students at Georgia Tech have to take this “Regent’s Test” and show they can write a 5 paragraph high school essay? Taking Differential Equations and AutoCad on the one hand, and having to do the BIG TEST and write about “Assigned Persuasive Essay” on the other? Does anyone know? Do Georgia Tech students suffer this harassment, too? Apparently it applies to all undergraduates in the Georgia University System and the name of this potato blight is the “Regent’s Test.” http://lmc.gatech.edu/regents/

If you ever are making the decision, “Should I leave Georgia?” “Should I attend a university outside of the Georgia government system?” boy, have I got some news for you: http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwrtp/essrated.htm

Private Citizen

February 28th, 2013
11:46 am

repost part 1 (pardon)

ReDux, Someone should clean the hill-Billies and hill-Betties out of the upper policy reaches of the Regent’s University of Georgia system, and strap that Regent’s 5-paragraph Essay Test onto their back like a rock and make them carry it out the door and throw it back into the fishing pond where they brought it from. If you need an essay test, put it on the exit out of high school. You’ve got no business harassing university students with this high school activity. No one else does it anywhere. and if you don’t take their sacred “Regent’s Test” they’ll cancel your class registration. Morons in Georgia absolutely live to cover-their-ass CYA – pardon me – and harass people instead of having intelligent policy.

I mean really, I must be losing some marbles. Do undergraduate students at Georgia Tech have to take this “Regent’s Test” and show they can write a 5 paragraph high school essay? Taking Differential Equations and AutoCad on the one hand, and having to do the BIG TEST and write about “Assigned Persuasive Essay” on the other? Does anyone know? Do Georgia Tech students suffer this harassment, too? Apparently it applies to all undergraduates in the Georgia University System and the name of this potato blight is the “Regent’s Test.” http://lmc.gatech.edu/regents/

Private Citizen

February 28th, 2013
11:48 am

report pt. 2 (pardon)

If you ever are making the decision, “Should I leave Georgia?” “Should I attend a university outside of the Georgia government system?” boy, have I got some news for you: http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwrtp/essrated.htm They treat you like a little kid in college here, too.

Private Citizen

February 28th, 2013
12:01 pm

mystery poster, Not all college students in GA take the Regents Exams.

Thank you. news to me. Maybe there is an exemption, but on the Georgia Tech page is says, “To establish eligibility for an undergraduate degree, every student in the University System of Georgia must pass the Regents’ Test, a two-part examination designed to measure proficiency in reading and English composition.” http://lmc.gatech.edu/regents/

So either, you’re right – and you must be, or the thing is so messed up that they have published misinformation on the topic. It is definitely an authority exploit and abuse of student’s time, at least when applied to the majority of students. In other words, “We want to know if you can read and write.” This sort of thing does not belong in a research university or top level school with selective admission.
_____________

Someone should make a “Regent’s Test” for ethics and make the governing people take it.

Big Hat

February 28th, 2013
12:02 pm

When photographs of guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have photographs of guns.

mad_russian

February 28th, 2013
12:05 pm

Look, all of the plebes questioning why this photo occurred finally have an explanation. Guess that would have happened by asking the question in the first place. Now you look like true dolts for assuming rather than asking.

As for you Mountain Man, please stay in the backwoods and don’t bother coming down to the city. We really could care less about your stereotypical views of urban schools. In fact, please dig down deeper into that hole where you obviously live.

As for the student, sorry but the claim of ignorance won’t work. Accept the consequences of your actions but I don’t believe her life should be ruined by this incident. In general the students were safe due to quick action by the staff. There’s no possible way to completely prepare for every scenario, and if you know the layout of the school you’ll understand the amount of resources needed to cover every single entrance and exit. With budget cutbacks to schools, specifically in regards to educational support, do you really think that money will be shifted for increased security? There are classes that haven’t even been able to get the materials they need to teach the class. We need to shift our priorities into solutions rather than complaints and make demands to reach the goals of all of our students, not just the ones that come from good families, are college bound, or have what is considered a viable plan.

Private Citizen

February 28th, 2013
12:05 pm

Hi. Nice to meet you at the little party here. Oh? You went to college in Georgia, yoo? Did you earn a 1, a 2, or a 3 on your Regent’s Test? I had such a nice time attending college here in Georgia…

Inman and Grady Safety

February 28th, 2013
12:08 pm

Read the comments by parents with kids at Inman

http://vahi.patch.com/articles/report-officer-uses-taser-gun-on-two-7th-grade-girls-fighting-outside-inman-ms

and ask yourself, is Inman next? The loaded gun sat on the ground at Grady for 5-15 minutes. What do you think would happen if a loaded gun were lying around on the ground for that amount of time in a school with 11-14 year old boys?

BB guns in school, knives in school, unsupervised students, attacks that seriously injure the victim, fights so bad that teachers and administration can’t separate the students and the cop feels called upon to use a taser, assailants being given no effective consequences, victims not being protected, calls for us of “conflict resolution” but only after something really happens, inadequate counseling staff for the number of students and severity of their problems. Not to mention classes continually disrupted – are students supposed to be actually learning, in addition to trying to stay safe? And now an actual shooting at the high school. Wake up, people. You are the proverbial frog being slowly cooked. When will you notice the temperature is getting too hot and demand change?

The purpose of these comments is not to alarm the community unnecessarily, or to disparage the schools, or the students or teachers or even the administrators as a whole. Nor is it to deny that Inman has had good CRCT scores in the past, and Grady has some phenomenal activities and teams and some academically stellar students, which isn’t really relevant on the issue of school violence and school climate. If you don’t know what’s going on, and many may not, until something horrific happens, you can’t work to fix it. The Southerner has been reporting for years how easy it would be to bring a weapon into the school in various ways. And just now everyone is saying, “now we know it can happen here!”??? Do you really want to try to minimize even this latest “incident” (as APS calls it). Do you really have to wait until something even worse happens, and then say, “now we know this can happen here too”?

_forj_

February 28th, 2013
12:17 pm

@Private Citizen — you do realize that Grady High School is not next to Grady Hospital, right? in fact it is about as close to Emory University Hospital as it is to Grady. the high school is at 10th and Monroe right next to Piedmont Park. Grady Hospital is downtown next to Ga State.

southern hope

February 28th, 2013
12:19 pm

The staff of the southerner deserves great credit for their reporting on this case….it’s a better newspaper than most professional ones in the state — http://thesoutherneronline.com/

MoFaux

February 28th, 2013
12:39 pm

Sounds like the mom doesn’t know her daughter as well as she thinks she does. It is rather far-fetched to think someone planted a pink gun in her jacket as a joke.

mountain man

February 28th, 2013
12:52 pm

“Mom said in TV interview that the family had no guns.
Maureen –

What did her dad say?

Interfere with getting into college? I hope it doesn’t interfere with her getting into college, either, when she is 27 – if they let convicted felons in.

mystery poster

February 28th, 2013
1:20 pm

@Private Citizen:
This article from the AJC outlines Regents Exam exemptions. It is from 2010, though.

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/georgia-colleges-may-seek-exemptions-from-state-te/nQbc3/

Conspiracy

February 28th, 2013
1:59 pm

The picture was taken prior to the shooting, and clearly staged. Mr. Lavine managed to get the gun’s good side, and even the lighting is perfect. This kid deserves no accolades. I see him as more of a Tech guy.

Private Citizen

February 28th, 2013
2:01 pm

mystery poster, Thank you. They sure needed this adjustment. I wonder why the university system, GA Tech, is not a little more forthright about it. It is like they are scared of being directed about the cut-off scores and haves and have-nots or somesuch. I mean, that would be typical, got to play-act that everyone is equal, or mis-apply the idea. I mean, fact is, to my read, the official GA Tech does not include this information in the Regent’s Test page. Seems like the people testing people for writing need to learn how to write clearly. Old story, that. I could research it more, but I’ve got other things to do today. It is good that they have done something to modify what is harassment of the higher performing students in the Georgia University System, basically a misapplication of remediation mentality having gotten out of the Jack-in-the-Box. Thank you for the information.

Private Citizen

February 28th, 2013
2:07 pm

I still remember too well all of that, checking the postal mailbox and holding honors letter in one hand and “Regent’s Test requirement” letter in the other hand and just sputtering and going, “%$% pp45432 $%$% puh puh puh You Require Me to Do What?!!!” Talk about a bad day in Georgia-Town, when the state bosses want to treat adults like children and throw some “make work” into the plantation equation and no doubt think of themselves as producing.

Barb

February 28th, 2013
2:14 pm

This young man has done an excellent job with this article. Please keep up the good work

Bill

February 28th, 2013
2:49 pm

@Private Citizen,
It sounds like the requirement to take the Regent’s exam is the worst thing life has ever thrown at you. Get over it.

10:10 am

February 28th, 2013
3:14 pm

As for “Why?” … look closely and you’ll note the gun is stamped “Property of a welfare system which marginalizes the value of fathers, hard work and self-responsibility.”