Raisheem Rochwell, the 17-year old accused of shooting two teens in a Philadelphia school last week, has been charged as an adult in the case. In the latest in a rash of school shootings, the teen allegedly used a handgun to open fire on classmates in the gym of the Delaware Valley Charter High School on Friday.
Two teens, one male and one female, were wounded in the attack, both with non-life threatening injuries. They were taken to a Philadelphia-area hospital and reported to be in stable condition. Authorities have stated that a single bullet fired from the handgun penetrated the female’s bicep before striking the male victim in the shoulder. At this time it is unclear if the shooting was intentional or accidental.
The incident was captured on the school’s security system, and authorities are reviewing that footage. Rochwell and other individuals fled the scene after the gunshot, and the school was put on lockdown. Students were allowed to leave after it was ascertained that the suspects were no longer in the school.
A suspect was taken into custody shortly after the incident, but it was not Rochwell, and the individual was quickly cleared and released. Rochwell turned himself in on Saturday afternoon. He has been charged with aggravated assault, along with several lesser charges. It is unclear where Rochwell acquired the weapon and why it was present in the school. Rochwell’s bail has been set at $500,000.
Rochwell’s attorney, Amato Sanita of Philadelphia, has issued a statement indicating that his client does not have a criminal record and disputes the charges filed against him. Sanita also indicated that the shooting was accidental, although Philadelphia law enforcement has not commented on this assertion.
Delaware Valley Charter is one of dozens of charter schools in Philadelphia. The incident at the school is the latest in a recent spate of high-profile public shooting incidents around the country. In New Mexico, a 12-year old is in custody after allegedly opening fire with a shotgun and seriously injuring two classmates. In Indiana, two women were killed after a shooter fired on them in a grocery store before being killed last week.
In Colorado a shooter seriously injured a female student before killing himself at Arapahoe High School in December, and last week in Florida an ex-Tampa police officer allegedly killed a man and injured his wife in a movie theater after a dispute over use of a cell phone.
These incidents add fuel to the fire of the debate over gun violence and what can be done to mitigate it. Advocates of gun control legislation use these incidents as evidence for the necessity of stricter gun control laws, while opponents of new gun policies argue that legislation is not necessarily an answer to the question of violence.
The larger concern for many opponents of legislative remedies is a deep distrust of the federal government to respect the constitutional rights of citizens. There is a deep vein of distrust for authority running through American society that manifests itself as an unwillingness to relinquish access to firearms. While Second Amendment advocates are disturbed by public shootings, they are skeptical of the ability of government to prevent it, especially through the enactment of ever-stricter gun policies. Many point out that resources would be better spent on bolstering the national mental health care system, as opposed to intrusive measures such as background checks and restrictions on specific firearms.
In the Philadelphia shooting case, in addition to charging the alleged shooter as an adult, many are calling for an investigation into how the teen gained access to the firearm that was used, and possible charges against any adult found to be involved with him accessing the gun.
By Mark Clarke
The Washington Post
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