Secrecy surrounds school shooting


What little we know about Friday's senseless killing of a Palo Verde High School freshman has come from grieving family and friends and the shellshocked Summerlin neighborhood where the drive-by shooting unfolded barely a block from campus.

We know the student who died: 15-year-old Chris Privett, an honor student and center on the Panthers' frosh football squad, by all accounts a bright, funny boy who was often in the company of buddies.

We know his family is struggling to come to terms with an immeasurable loss.

We know Palo Verde students and their parents have endured an anxious Presidents Day weekend, many mourning the death of a friend, teammate and classmate, most wondering what school officials and police will do in response to the slaying when classes resume this morning.

And we know parts of Summerlin and neighborhoods from Centennial Hills to Henderson are splintering from the speculation that spreads when precious little information is released to the public.

Authorities have been inappropriately tight-lipped about the tragedy. As Palo Verde students held vigil at the site of the deadly shooting over the weekend, Las Vegas police refused to confirm that Chris had been killed. Friends and family were more forthcoming in their time of sorrow.

Police did reveal that they had arrested a 16-year-old Palo Verde sophomore early Saturday on suspicion of murder with a deadly weapon, three counts of attempted murder with a deadly weapon and four counts of firing a weapon from a moving vehicle. He is being held at the Clark County juvenile detention center.

Police said four others were in the car with the suspect during the shooting: two girls who attend Palo Verde and two young men who don't. Two of those four have criminal records, but none had been arrested as of Monday evening, police said.

But police won't release their names or their motives, citing state law that prohibits their disclosure.

A boy is dead, gunned down outside his school, and the teen accused of killing him is afforded special protection under the law?

This is not how the juvenile justice system was intended to work. Kids who are caught committing minor theft or vandalism or possessing small amounts of illegal drugs should have the opportunity to reform themselves and begin adulthood without the taint of a criminal record. A 16-year-old accused of firing a gun into a group of people and killing a boy, on the other hand, must not be given a pass -- not at the time of arrest, not at trial, not upon conviction.

The public will not tolerate secret proceedings here. The safety of their children and their schools is at stake. They need to know everything about this shocking act to have any hope of preventing a recurrence at any of the Clark County School District's three dozen high schools.

Do police really want to send a message that future school shooters will receive a shield of anonymity? Authorities should be more open about their entire investigation into Chris Privett's death.

 

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