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Mother of L.A. Unified student killed in 1993 calls for better campus security [Updated]

January 18, 2011 |  8:05 pm

Demetrius Rice During this same week 18 years ago, a 16-year-old Fairfax High School student died after he was shot in the chest by a student who used a backpack to bring a .357-magnum handgun into a classroom. It was the first time a student in the Los Angeles Unified School District had been killed in a classroom.

On Tuesday, the mother of the slain student watched in disbelief as television news crews reported that two Gardena High School students were shot after a classmate brought a handgun on campus in a backpack.

"All I could do was sit there and listen to it in disbelief," Mildred Hunt told The Times. "It was just like a video replay."

Her only son, Demetrius Rice, was shot through the heart on Jan. 21, 1993, and another student was wounded when the gun dropped out of the backpack and discharged during an early morning English class.

Hunt said she lobbied L.A. Unified officials for more stringent security measures -- including metal detectors at entryways -- to spare other families the pain and loss that she suffered. But she said Tuesday's shooting shows that the district has failed to make its campuses safe from gun violence.

"At LAUSD, they're doing business as usual," she said. "Nothing has changed."

Since 1993, district officials have required random searches, but largely leave principals to decide the details of when and where to conduct them. An L.A. Unified policy memo recommends that searches take place on a daily basis at different times so they don't become predictable.

On Tuesday, school officials were meeting to consider whether the policy should be updated.

[Corrected at 9 p.m.: Hunt initially told The Times her son was 15. She later said he was 16.]


Photos: Gardena High School shooting

Youth found guilty in 1993 Fairfax High shooting

LAUSD to review policy in wake of Gardena High shooting

-- Robert J. Lopez

Photo: Demetrius Rice. Credit: Mildred Hunt