Thursday, January 12, 2012

Teen who allegedly shot at bullies at North Forest High appears in court

  HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Firing back at bullies lands a local high school student in jail. Now the teen tells a judge he was acting in self-defense when he shot at the people he claims have been tormenting him.

Incidents happen at schools all the time in Houston, but not all of them garner this kind of response. On Wednesday Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who is leading the charge to keep North Forest ISD from closing, visited the high school one day after a 16-year-old student was shot in the leg. How the gun was slipped past metal detectors is still a mystery, but it's the second time it's happened this year.

"We are all concerned about the safety of the students and we're asking that school district do what they are doing, and that is to take this very seriously," Jackson Lee said.

North Forest High School student Warren Lewis, 18, faced a judge in court Wednesday morning for the first time. The teen's family says he had been bullied by three older students and was trying to defend himself when he brought the gun to school. It's still not clear how the gun was slipped past metal detectors there.

Prosecutors say on Tuesday after lunch, another student walked into Lewis' classroom and began questioning him about a confrontation that happened at lunch. The state says after the classroom argument, Lewis stepped out into the hallway and beckoned for the other student to fight him off campus.

Prosecutors say that's when the other student walked up to Lewis and began fighting him. Authorities say the fight ended when Lewis stopped fighting back and covered his face. The other student walked away and Lewis pulled out a small handgun from his backpack and shot, unintentionally striking a 16-year-old bystander, according to prosecutors.

On Wednesday morning, Lewis, an honors student, told the judge he was bullied, with students even showing up at his home. He says he feared for his life and his family.

"I have papers of them making reports for the longest... these same boys, they came by my house, sir," Lewis told the judge. "I'm in fear for my life and for my family's life."

"You should discuss that with your lawyer and see if that provides some sort of defense to the charge," replied the judge.

Lewis' mom says her son reported the bullies to the school more than once.

"He was so scared that he felt like he needed to protect himself because he said these boys carry guns and have been known to shoot people," said Lewis' mother, Yolanda Domino.

Lewis' mother apologized to the victim's family. The mother also said she and her son repeatedly reported the bullying to NFISD, both a written complaint and verbal complaints. The district says it has looked into the bullying accusations.

A spokesperson for North Forest ISD released a statement which read: "Regarding the claims by Mr. Lewis's mother that bullying of her son was reported to the North Forest School District, we can find no complaints filed either at the high school or the district police office about bullying of Mr. Lewis."

The school district is reviewing metal detector policies following the shooting. A district spokesperson said metal detector use was extended until 10am Wednesday.

Officials also say anything other than clear backpacks will now be banned from the high school. The school district is buying clear backpacks for all 1,285 high school students. They hope to have those purchased by next week.

The 16-year-old student's injuries are not life-threatening.

Lewis is charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Bond has been set at $30,000.

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