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Saturday, June 17, 2000

Saturday, 17 June 2000 GHS adds to security after fires - Greenwich Time

Greenwich High School officials sought police help in maintaining order on campus during a week that included one assault and three arsons.

Assistant Headmaster Alan Capasso said the administration decided to call in police officers to supplement the school's security force during the traditionally tumultuous final week of classes after two arsons on Wednesday.

Capasso said at 11:45 a.m. that day he discovered flames coming from a trash barrel at the northwest corner of the student center, near Folsom House. He quickly extinguished the fire and carried the barrel out of the building.

Five minutes later when he returned to the student center, Capasso said, he noticed smoke coming from a barrel near the first one. He put out the smoldering contents and alerted police. No one was found responsible for the fires as of yesterday.

Capasso said yesterday that the Wednesday fires prompted him to seek police help for the last two days of school.

"We asked the police to assist us in monitoring the student center," Capasso said.

Police presence on campus was increased yesterday as the school twice called for additional assistance. Shortly before 6 a.m. police officers were called in to conduct a sweep of school grounds after a custodian reported suspicious activities. Nearly 10 students had tried to enter the building through side doors but scattered without incident when police arrived, Capasso said.

Capasso said he suspected the activities might be connected to a possible end-of-year plan that was thwarted.

However, around 11 a.m. a group of students created a disturbance in the student center by blowing whistles and popping balloons and water bottles, Capasso said. The administration called the police again.

Half a dozen officers, along with sergeants and detectives led by Deputy Chief James Walters, arrived to calm the scene. No arrests were made.

"We'd want to make sure all students were safe," Capasso said, "and we felt that the police presence would help."

A student set a fire in a trash bin at the student center Monday, according to Fire Department Inspector George Hannigan. Capasso said the student confessed to his act and was suspended, but no name was released because of the student's age.

On Tuesday sophomore Latoya Montgomery was charged with third-degree assault after a physical altercation with another student. Both sustained minor injuries but did not require medical attention, police said. Montgomery, 16, was released on a promise to appear Wednesday at state Superior Court in Stamford.

The assistant headmaster said he expects next week, exam week, to be calm and the school would not need police support.

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