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Grieving mother recalls Fairfax High shooting

January 19, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
The pain of losing her son is still very fresh for Mildred Hillard Hunt, despite the 18 years that have passed since his death.On Jan. 21, 1993, 16-year-old Demetrius Rice was killed at Fairfax High School by another student who brought a .357-magnum to school in his back pack and accidentally fired a single bullet that injured another student and killed Rice, a rising football star.

The circumstances of the tragedy are so similar to Tuesday's shooting at Gardena High School, that Hunt felt compelled to speak out.

"I really could not believe what I was actually looking at and listening to because it was just as though it just happened to me yesterday," Hunt said.

Hunt says one year after her son's death, the Los Angeles Unified School District put metal detection wands in schools to deter students from bringing weapons on campus, but Hunt alleges the district isn't doing enough to make sure the weapon searches are enforced.

"I just hope that they will do something to really make these schools safer," Hunt said. "The state requires them to be there. The state should be required to make sure that each and every one of those students are safe when they walk through the doors."

LAUSD incoming Superintendent John Deasy announced Wednesday that Gardena High School violated school district policy requiring daily random weapons searches, and students say weapons checks were rare.

Hunt is also critical of the district's handling of Tuesday's crisis. She says many parents were kept in the dark for too long, just as she was after her son's shooting.

"They failed me 18 years ago and they failed these parents today," Hunt said.

After the death of her son, Hunt was very active in the community advocating for safer schools.

She says it may be time for her to visit LAUSD board members again.

LAUSD did not respond to requests for comment.