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Shooting At Taft Was 'Robbery Gone Bad,' Police Believe

Police confirm a person was shot in the leg outside Taft Education Center, and that they are searching for shooter.

Ferndale Police Chief Tim Collins and Ferndale Schools Superintendent Gary Meier held a news conference outside of about 4:45 p.m. Thursday to provide updates on a shooting earlier in the afternoon outside the center.

"We believe at this time it was a robbery gone bad," Collins said. "But the matter is still under investigation at this time."

Around 3 p.m. a gunman approached the entrance of Taft Education Center, an alternative education building of about 370 students, and fired a gun at the victim, Collins said. The victim was shot in the leg and the shooter fled west on Fielding.

The victim was alert when he was taken to the hospital, according to Ferndale Police Sgt. Dennis Emmi.

The district confirmed that the victim was a student of Taft leaving the school.

The Ferndale Public Schools buildings were then put on lockdown as the Ferndale police scoured the backyards of the homes in the surrounding area.

Collins said the gunman removed his black hooding during the escape. "We brought in a K-9 tracking dog but were unsuccessful," Collins said.

A search of the area and homes surrounding the center was completed, and the area was pronounced clear by police. But Collins told residents that if they see anything suspicious "and someone without a coat in this weather" to call the Ferndale Police.

The gunman is described as a young black male wearing tan pants and boots, a dark hat and standing about 5 feet 9 inches tall.

Collins said he did not know if the suspect was a student or if he knew the victim

"I'd like to express my appreciation of the Ferndale Police," Meier said, kicking off the news conference.

On Tuesday, another incident involving a gun took place at Taft. A former student and a student fought. Some time after the fight took place, that same day, a group of four went into Taft and one of them pulled out a gun and pointed it down the hallway. Collins also said that the department did not know if the two incidents were related or not.

Athletic practices and events have been canceled but all other school activities are still taking place.

Any information about the incident call the Ferndale Police at 248-541-3650.

This article was updated at 11:02 p.m.

4:11 p.m.: Ferndale Public Schools release an email alert at 4 p.m.

Ferndale, Michigan – A student attending the Taft Alternative Education Center in the Ferndale Public Schools was shot in the leg in the school parking lot after school this afternoon.  The shooter, who is unknown at this time, is at-large in the community. 

The Ferndale Police have advised the district to lockdown schools where students were still in classes and not release them until notified by the police (University High School, Ferndale High School, Taft Education Center, Kennedy School and Roosevelt Primary School). Students who were on the bus already from Ferndale Middle School or Coolidge Intermediate School have been redirected to Roosevelt Primary School where parents can pick them up.

When the police notify us that this incident has been resolved, we will notify our school families, the community and the media.

3:45 p.m.: Police confirm that a student was shot in the leg at the Taft Education Center, a building that's part of the Ferndale Public Schools alternative education program, this afternoon.

The student, said Ferndale Police Sgt. Dennis Emmi, was alert when he was taken to the hospital.

He added that the investigation is ongoing.

There are two helicopters circling Taft, one of which is an Oakland County Sheriffs helicopter. All the Ferndale schools were locked down, according to reports from parents.

Deputy Superintendent Henry Gold, who was on site, said the district wasn't ready to make a statement yet. However the district did send out a robo-call to parents saying that the shooter was on the loose, parents are reporting.

According to a report on at the Daily Tribune, the police were searching for a suspect who was "wearing a light blue hat, light blue sweatshirt, and khaki pants."

The report said he was last seen going west on Fielding Street.

Witnesses Christine and Kelly Schaub said that they saw the victim lying in front of the Taft entrance, on the west end of the building. "They had oxygen on him when they put him in the ambulance," Christine Schaub said.

"It's sad when our kids can't be safe in their own schools," said Kelly Schaub.

Gold said the district is expected to make a statement.

On Tuesday, the Daily Tribune reported that a gun was pulled after a fight between a former student and a student was broken up.

Stay tuned to Ferndale Patch as this story unfolds.

Terry Parris Jr. December 09, 2011 at 05:38 PM
What about the year prior?
Lucas Zdenek December 09, 2011 at 05:59 PM
"wrong."? No, this kind of thing is possible in most places. One child can change the whole story...
Terry Parris Jr. December 09, 2011 at 06:00 PM
Here's a question: What kind of conversations should the teachers in the classroom be having today?
not in my backyard December 09, 2011 at 06:59 PM
hmmmm...well if the classroom happens to be at Taft I'm guessing the question of the day might be "do you think selling dime bags while on school grounds had anything to do with this "attempted Robbery"... or better yet, how much longer do you think we have in this building before the citizens of the neighborhood realize their high taxes and heavy police presence due nothing to squash the intentions of our recently invited (free edu) guests...
Terry Parris Jr. December 09, 2011 at 07:02 PM
I don't think that will be asked in a classroom.
not in my backyard December 09, 2011 at 07:05 PM
or talked about openly...truth is none of us are safe when this school is here to give Detroiters their GED!!!
Terry Parris Jr. December 09, 2011 at 07:07 PM
Do you truly believe that? That none of us are safe? I mean, yes, this is a terrible crime. But to say that none of us are safe?
Ferndale_1986 December 09, 2011 at 07:54 PM
@Lucas read my words again. "stuff like this does not happen everywhere." my words mean what they say, not what you want them to say or how you think the world works.
Thomas Gagne December 09, 2011 at 08:00 PM
Terry, I'll have to wait until next week since their records division is closed on Fridays.
Terry Parris Jr. December 09, 2011 at 08:02 PM
What makes a school building unsafe? Guns, yes... but what about fights, or sexual harassment/assault. I think all of it should be considered.
Thomas Gagne December 09, 2011 at 08:29 PM
"What makes a school building unsafe? Guns, yes... but what about fights, or sexual harassment/assault. I think all of it should be considered." Terry, on their own, guns, fists, and male genitalia are not unsafe. It's what *is* done with them that makes them unsafe. It's not the gun's, fist's, or genitalia's fault it is used to assault. It is the person that is responsible for their actions, not their appendages or accessories. So the question isn't how do we remove guns, fists, and male genitalia from schools, but how do we prevent their improper use, not attract people likely to use them improperly, and not violate the rights and peeves of others perfectly cable of possessing all of them safely.
Terry Parris Jr. December 09, 2011 at 08:32 PM
Tom: I'm with you except for -- "So the question isn't how do we remove guns" Guns should be removed from schools (not a debate about whether a responsible adult with a license should own a gun or now) -- but I get what you're saying.
Guy Fawkes December 09, 2011 at 08:49 PM
It's simple. Because suggesting that having the school open somehow causes crime in the first place is a canard, and one that is somewhat racist. It insinuates that crime occurs only because people from Detroit come into Ferndale. When a logical person knows that crime occurs because there are criminals in every city, and there are more in poorer neighborhoods where opportunities are scarce and a sense of misguided outrage is handed down from generation to generation. That's not racial. That's a class issue. People don't commit crimes because they're black. They commit crimes because they're undereducated, underemployed and probably medicate their condition with drugs and/or alcohol. Detroiters don't go away because the schools close, nor would a reasonable person want them to. The whole concept of closing the school resulting in a drop in crime is garbage. I would concede that basketball hoops historically draw crowds that are eventually dominated by gangster activity. And I'm not sure why that is, but it does seem to be so. Cutting down a basketball hoop after a gun crime has occurred makes sense. But not closing down an institution of education. The only reason to close a school, which by the way is the only real way to fight crime, poverty and addiction long term in the first place, is because we simply can't afford it.
Thomas Gagne December 09, 2011 at 09:01 PM
Guy to make sure we're on the same page, many of the students attending Taft are there because they either a) they didn't follow the traditional route or b) they're there on condition of their probation--or at least that's what the Wayne County Court folks say. Unfortunately, they won't provide numbers on how many attend FPS because they don't keep track of which schools the students attend, all they keep track of is that there's some validation they're pursuing their GED. The courts aren't interested enough in /where/ they're going to class, or if they are, they aren't interested in sharing it with a random person calling on the phone.
Guy Fawkes December 09, 2011 at 09:24 PM
If there are no numbers then we probably shouldn't be putting anecdote out there as fact. You heard a rumor from a friend who works for the county? Fine. Let's leave it at that.
Audrey Langley December 09, 2011 at 09:29 PM
We are safe. It's just that Ferndale gets a bad rap every. single. time. No matter how many of the crimes in the "Woodward Talk" crime blotter happen in Royal Oak or Berkley (they all do if you pay attention), Ferndale will always have to defend itself against citizens to our north, and unfortunately, citizens that live here and in PR too. An elderly lady can be brutally murdered in Royal Oak, a bomb could go off in the middle of Berkley, and Ferndale will have to apologize for some random violent youth(s) that attend our adult ed. facility. We can have the best school district, the lowest crime rate, the best business district, the most beautiful homes, the most tolerant citizenry, but it won't matter because we have the apparent misfortune of bordering Detroit. People won't be happy until we build an electric fence that lines 8 Mile, but then they would complain that it was built wrong and the city was wasting their tax money. Maybe we should put the fence on the bond extension, then we can actually get the asbestos removed from the HS because people would vote for it (bitter sarcasm).
Terry Parris Jr. December 09, 2011 at 09:32 PM
There are a lot of great comments here and a lot of letter to the editor material. Let me know if anyone might be interested.
Thomas Gagne December 09, 2011 at 09:44 PM
No, not rumors from a friend. I actually contacted both the court and the probation department. Another complication are closed records for juvenile offenses. You're right, numbers would help a lot. The only people that might be able to share some numbers are the school district. Perhaps its worth another try.
Erik Roberts December 10, 2011 at 12:51 AM
Guy, this is not an assumption, the more students a district has the more money the district gets...schools aren't a charity...I WILL assume that Taft houses students of any background because it makes more sense to have students in a building rather then let it sit dormant and still have to pay for its upkeep. I never said it makes Ferndale a bundle...not to mention no one forced Ferndale to open its doors to ANYONE other then Ferndale students...they made a choice to do so and it was driven by financial reasons
Erik Roberts December 10, 2011 at 01:01 AM
Terry, that made me LOL
Tim Bencsik December 10, 2011 at 09:12 AM
Once again, not POLITICALLY CORRECT! But true...... If you want to ask about the Black culture, consult Bill Cosby or Pastor David Manning... They are black, so they can comment without being called racist. I myself attended a 75% black school; and was in fear for my life every day! My wife attended the Detroit Public School System; so we know the cultural issues... Ask yourself, "Why did Mayor Covey move out of Palmer Park? And why did the gay community migrate north to Ferndale? Here is why! Read this.. http://www2.metrotimes.com/editorial/story.asp?id=10562 Ferndale is becoming the New Palmer Park! Or as I call it; Palmer Park North.
Tim Bencsik December 10, 2011 at 11:18 AM
Let them loose enrollment! why should others pay for others mistakes? Not my problem, and I hold myself responsible for my problems and solve them myself.. What you are seeing is "White Flight"... Just like in Detroit in the 60's and 70's. People feared for their life! It is just that simple.... And Tom Gagne, if you think it is scarry now; you just wait? This is just a taste of things to come! And it is closer to your house than you think?
Tim Bencsik December 10, 2011 at 11:21 AM
Welcome to the SS FERNDALE!
Guy Fawkes December 10, 2011 at 09:58 PM
You've already established yourself as the area's leading racist, Bensick. What, are you going for the whole state? Funny thing when someone is truly a bigot on a pathological scale, they don't even know when it's coming out of their mouth. They don't even have a sense of what is normal conversation and what is just plain ignorant racism.
Christine M. Kole December 11, 2011 at 01:42 PM
I wish those who rant against our schools would just move. Crime happens everywhere; I just posted the latest robberies in Royal Oak on facebook. As far as pot smoking, they did when I was in high school, and I graduated in 1970. They did a locker search in my old Catholic school, and found plenty of alcohol and drugs. What should they do, put cameras in the rest room stalls? Pat the kids down? 99% of our students who are involved in the school and its many activities, whose parents support the schools, are not the druggies. They wouldn't have the ambition and energy to accomplish what they do. Our school buildings still need renovation, and it's not going to cost the taxpayers a dollar more than it has been. I worked in adult ed for 16 years and saw firsthand the successes that resulted from these young people achieving an education. I worked with teen moms who showed their little ones that education was important. I saw these young women go on to college and find decent jobs and support their children on their own. I taught their children, and their moms interned in my classroom. Unfortunately, the economy is worse, our governor is sticking it to the poor, and crimes of desperation and opportunity are rampant. Kudos to our school district for the calm handling of the lock down situation, and for its constant communication with parents! As a Ferndale resident, an employee and a parent of an FHS student, I am grateful.
Tim Bencsik December 12, 2011 at 01:01 AM
I can't disagree, people are rotten in every society and class to some degree; as far as leaving, I plan too! Not because of your advice though, but because i don't feel like being a statistic.. I saw Sgt. B. Brown and 4 police cars on West End, and another home invasion from what I can tell; with a busted open window! as for our Governor, you are generalizing on a tough situation; there is no money and tough choices, since congress, bad presidents and money printing/inflation and hand outs put this country in the poor house. Corruption in goverment, bailing out crony Wallstreet banks and Barack Obama with a load of BS. He is no different than GW. Bush in many ways... Just the same old stuff, and tax payers who actually work, pay for it! But that is life, and always will be. Since real capitalism died, Dysfunctionalism became the American way of life; there was no return to normalcy! The middle class was created by men like Henry Ford, then goverment got involved.... but if all communities are all alike, why don't you moveback into Detroit where you can really help all those poor people? We can hold a raffle to benefit the schools here in Ferndale; we can have a little guessing game/raffle off tickets of how long it takes for you to be victumized in Detroit? The person who guesses the crime and closest date of the crime wins? Sounds like a win / win situation?
Michelle Foster December 13, 2011 at 03:14 AM
"So the question isn't how do we remove guns, fists, and male genitalia from schools, but how do we prevent their improper use, not attract people likely to use them improperly, and not violate the rights and peeves of others perfectly cable of possessing all of them safely." I bet the answer to that is to close an educational facility in the area... wait... maybe its to run away from thugs (move, go to other school districts, be frightened).... hmmm.... OR!...maybe its to ban together as a sane, caring society to provide educational opportunities to those who need it most and create a plan (neighborhood patrol, businesses in the area to provide eyes on the street) to help protect our citizens from the mistakes that others (thugs!) might make. Treat the thugs (aka HUMANS/CITIZENS) with fairness and perhaps they will learn justice.
Thomas Gagne December 13, 2011 at 05:34 AM
For the moment, Michelle, we'll ignore the argumentum ad misericordiam of your reply because I'm sure your heart is in the right place. There are many things to be sympathetic toward regarding community schools, and as some of them are in conflict with each other sympathy is a better basis for charity than government bodies--there's no limit to the amount of money that could be spent on sympathetic causes and government must have limits--if only to leave room for real charity. But to your point, you're haste to jump to conclusions and put words in my mouth (or posts, as it were) assumes too much. I'm not necessarily interested in closing the school. I'm more interested in understanding what our school board and superintendent's intentions are with Taft, and if those intentions are aligned with the mission and purpose of school districts in general and the Ferndale School District (FSD) in particular. I will hazard an opinion that if a district's services do not primarily serve the residents within the district then perhaps we should examine those discretionary activities to understand their benefit to the district and taxpayers. For instance, what value does the Southfield adult-ed facility provide the residents of FSD? I understand why The University of Phoenix has classroom space in Troy, but I'm less certain how FSD's Southfield facility serves the interests of FSD or its taxpayers.
Michelle Foster December 13, 2011 at 02:35 PM
Though I quoted you, Tom, I was not only referring to your posts. I apologize for the confusion. I’m in the middle of finals week and was trying to say many things at once. Let me reiterate: “Thugs” are humans and deserve to be treated with the same respect. Fear doesn’t solve violence. Education does reduce crime. “A one percent increase in the high school completion rate of all men ages 20-60 would save the United States as much as $1.4 per year in reduced costs from crime incurred by victims and society at large. Such externalities from education amount to $1,170-2,100 per additional high school graduate or 14-26% of the private return to schooling.” [California Center for Population Research] (and yes, that is a statistic referring to high school graduation, not GED, but you get the picture) Create solutions to solve the problem at hand, while understanding the future outcomes. I would also like to know more about the Southfield location.
Brian Clark December 13, 2011 at 08:00 PM
Has anyone ever seen "12 Angry Men"?

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