Dual tragedies for PLHS students spur reaction
Published - 12/17/08 - 01:50 PM | 9160 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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The tragic death of three high school students in recent weeks — two of whom were from Point Loma High School (PLHS) — has community members grieving and rallying to cope with youth violence and loss.

A car accident on Nov. 29 killed PLHS freshman Prisma Mejia, 15. About a week later, students were again rocked by news of the fatal shooting of 15-year-old freshman basketball player Michael Taylor, school officials said.

Laurie Hurl, a PLHS counselor, said many students knew both victims. School staff and victims advocacy groups have been consoling students and family since then.

In an event not officially endorsed by the San Diego Unified School District, community members and students from several high schools plan to walk against school violence starting at Cleator Community Park on Famosa Boulevard at 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 22. The march will conclude Downtown at City Hall, according to Alexa Da Rosa, Point Loma High School's ASB president.

The walk highlights a grim reality facing PLHS students.

“These kids at our school have had two great tragedies in a row,” Hurl said. “It’s been tough.”

The car accident that killed Prisma left her brother, Raymundo, also a freshman basketball player, and two other PLHS students hospitalized with serious injuries, Hurl said. Students from High Tech High and San Diego High were also injured in the accident, she said.

To remember Michael, PLHS also established the Michael Taylor Basketball Scholarship. Each June the school now awards a scholarship to a varsity basketball student athlete, Hurl said. The school also renamed the December 2009 Junior Varsity Dog Pound Tournament as the Michael Taylor Junior Varsity Dog Pound Tournament in his honor.

Michael was the victim of a gang-related shooting, police said.

Michael and 17-year-old Lincoln High School student Monique Palmer were shot and killed while walking away from a party after midnight on Saturday, Dec. 6, in a community near the 200 block of San Jacinto Drive, police said.

Police arrested Derelle Oliver, 19, Monday night in connection with the murders. A second man, James Tyler, also 19, was arrested after turning himself in to police Dec. 9. Tyler has not been charged with the crime, said San Diego Police Department Capt. Jim Collins.

Though police report fewer gang-related crimes compared to last year, Collins said incidents occurring in recent weeks have become a “concern” for the community.

Another gang-related incident that occurred on Dec. 9 was not connected to Michael’s death, he said.

“So when you have three murders in four days, it appears that gang violence is up,” Collins. “And obviously that’s a very short period of time to have three murders, so it is concerning.”

Residents wishing to donate to the Michael Taylor Scholarship Fund can contact Hurl through Point Loma High School, C/O Laurie Hurl, 2335 Chatsworth Blvd., San Diego, 92106.
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