Police: 5-student dispute led to 1 killed, 2 injured outside Richfield school

A vigil lies outside of South Education Center
A vigil lies outside of South Education Center in Richfield to honor Jahmari Rice, who was shot and killed outside of the school on Tuesday.
Tim Evans for MPR News

Updated: Feb. 2, 4:30 p.m. | Posted: Feb. 1, 1:13 p.m.

A dispute involving five South Education Center students led to a confrontation Tuesday outside the Richfield school that ended with two students shot, including a 15-year-old who died. A 19-year-old student was also injured, the city’s police chief said Wednesday.

Police arrested two teens. The chief said the students knew each other and the shooting was not random. He described it as an altercation that spilled onto the sidewalk outside school and ended in the shooting.

“We are confident that this is an isolated incident with no lingering safety concerns,” Chief Jay Henthorne told reporters.

He didn’t detail the nature of the dispute.

He said charges were expected by Thursday afternoon against the two arrested teens, both from Minneapolis. MPR News typically does not name suspects until they’ve been charged with a crime. Police recovered several guns, Henthorne added.

Officers were called to the school at 12:07 p.m. Tuesday and found two students shot on the sidewalk outside. Both students were taken to HCMC. The third injured student was treated at the scene, Henthorne said.

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Richfield High School head football coach Kris Pulford told MPR News that the student who died was Jahmari Rice.

Superintendent: We are hurting

The shooting devastated the school, said District 287 Superintendent Sandy Lewandowski. That school district includes South Education Center.

“Our students and our families are hurting. Our staff are hurting. The trauma they experienced will be with them the rest of their lives,’’ Lewandowski said.

Officials canceled classes at South Education Center for Wednesday and Thursday. They will return Friday “to process, heal and learn from this tragedy,” according to a message to parents from principal Deb Carlson-Doom.

District 287 is a regional school district in the Twin Cities specializing in children with special needs or other challenges. It has about 200 students from pre-K through age 21 in special education and alternative learning programs.

Heavy police presence

The shooting call drew a heavy presence of police and emergency responders. The FBI also came to the scene. Officials set up a place in Donaldson Park for adults to meet with students. City buses were parked there as well.

At the student-parent pickup site, Mark Brull reunited with his daughter Maya, who stayed close by his side as Brull tried to describe his own feelings.

"Look, school shootings are the incomprehensible thing that's going on in this country,” he said. “It's horrifying. It's something that I can't understand."

A parent and his daughter interviewed.
Mark Brull of St. Louis Park speaks with reporters after picking up his daughter Maya Brull, 21, who has special needs and attends classes at the South Education Center in Richfield, Minn., on Tuesday.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

Earlier, Richfield Middle School’s principal wrote to parents saying that around noon, police accidentally showed up outside their school in response to an emergency call from the South Education Center.

“The officers had weapons drawn and were in bullet-proof vests. It is unlikely that many students witnessed the event, as they were in class at the time,” Erica Barlow wrote to parents.

Officials gave details about the shooting on Wednesday: