Rutherford High School sees more arrests, charges compared to previous years

Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 11:12 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Fights at Rutherford High School are something some would say is an all too common occurrence.

“Fights happen here everyday. Every single day, and it’s not one on one. It’s 12 on 20, 30 on 20, five on one,” Robert Heller, a concerned parent, said.

Heller said his son was jumped multiple times at Rutherford in the spring, and that’s why he decided to take him out of the school.

“The incidents, they get worse and worse and worse every single year. Every single year,” said Heller.

Incidents we saw again on Wednesday. Two different fights at the same time but in different locations on campus. Both were caught on video.

“Administration was trying to prevent it from happening where it happened at, but there were so many kids that were kind of getting involved, and law enforcement was there also. They kind of had a brawl,” Bay County Sheriff Lieutenant Myron Guilford said.

Guilford said that fight ended with two students being arrested Wednesday and charges to four others were added Thursday for disorderly conduct and disruption at a school function, but he adds, student arrests are a lot higher this school year than in past years.

“Probably in the nature of 20 to 30 kids,” said Guilford.

“It sounds more like statistics coming from a jail and not a school,” said Heller.

Guilford said about 30 kids involved in the past few fights, in recent weeks, have also been suspended.

“Kids have no respect. They don’t fear anyone. They think they can make their own rules. They can say what they want to say,” said Guilford.

Guilford also said social media trends, entertainment and lack of parenting are to blame.

“They’re allowing them to parent themselves and raise themselves. What we have is kids that are raising themselves through social media and computers, and that’s pretty much what’s ruining our young people’s lives right now,” said Guilford.

Young people’s lives, they said, should be spent getting an education, not fighting.

“This place is unsafe. Something bad is going to happen at this school if something doesn’t change,” said Heller.

A change they said starts at home.

“Parents, if you know your kids are involved in things they shouldn’t be involved in, that’s your responsibility to take care of that,” said Guilford.

We reached out to Bay District Schools officials for an interview Thursday, but they declined. The only thing they sent out was a statement:

“Out of an abundance of caution, law enforcement officers responded to a request for assistance earlier today {Thursday} from Rutherford High School. Authorities are still investigating the altercation. The school was briefly placed on lockdown during the situation, but normal operations resumed a few minutes later,” Director of Communications Sharon Michalik said.

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