By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
"I observed an enormous group of students exiting the campus building and running into the parking lot. They were obviously in a very agitated state. I saw several female students who were crying and visibly upset. As more students began exiting the school, they became increasingly agitated and began to break trees and throw rocks and other objects. At that time, I was the only officer at that location, and I was in plain clothes in an unmarked police car. I elected to withdraw from that position and attempt entry at another location."
Sergeant Vasquez ended up at the east end of the campus, where he assisted officers who were bringing in prisoners from the central quad area. He was one of the officers who was knocked down in the melee.
At the security office, Vasquez met Michael Craig, a South Mountain security officer. Craig identified a 16-year-old black student then being held in custody as one who had been right at the center of the fighting at the start. He had been fighting a Hispanic youth, also 16, who was easily identifiable because he was wearing a blue rag wrapped around his hand.
Six students were picked up from this original melee and transported to the South Mountain precinct at 400 West Southern.
But the general battle was on. What might have started as a fight between two street gangs turned into a larger event pitting black students against Hispanics.
The 16-year-old black student arrested at the center of the battle spoke freely of the event to Sergeant Vasquez. His version was that he had just come out of a physical education class when he got caught in a large crowd that was running down along the narrow school hallway. He claimed that "some Mexican guy" then hit him in the jaw.
"Hey, man," the black youth said he asked, "why did you hit me?"
He said that during the argument, he was grabbed by a security guard. He acknowledged that he was shouting at the other young man, but only because he was angry over being hit in the face. He was released later to his aunt.
The Hispanic youth with the blue rag around his hand had been observed hitting the black youngster by Craig, the security guard.
The security guard said the actions of the young man with the blue rag on his hand were, in his view, "seriously disruptive to the operation of the school and greatly disturbing to the faculty, the students and the surrounding neighborhood."
The Hispanic youth was also released later in the day to his father.
When Phoenix Patrolman John Wals reached the campus at 12:30 p.m., he saw hundreds of students fighting in the central quad area.
He remembers telling one student to leave the area with the other dispersed students. The subject refused and defied the police officer. When police attempted to arrest him, his brother, also a student, jumped on another officer from behind.
After the blacks were separated from the Hispanics, Wals remembers, the Hispanic students began hurling rocks at him. Wals gave chase to two Hispanic students who were throwing rocks from an alley just north of Ninth Street and Roeser. They jumped a couple of fences, but were later apprehended at the corner of Seventh Street and Atlanta. They were taken to the South Mountain police station.
Patrolman Clinton Swick was sent to Jesse Owens Memorial Hospital to take statements from injured students.
Carlos Navarro said that at noon, he was attempting to leave the school when he was attacked from behind by a black male who kicked him. Another black male threw a brick at him as he lay on the ground.
Kristal Navarro said that she was leaving school at 1 p.m. with several friends when she saw a large group fighting. She said that she and her friends were then jumped by a group of black females. One of them, who pushed her to the ground, was wearing a White Sox tee shirt and white shoes with red laces.
Mario Pasqueira told Swick that at 1 p.m., he had been "jumped" in the quad area of the school by seven or eight black males. Pasqueira had already been told by the faculty to go home because of the trouble. He suffered bruises to his hip and back.
David Castillo said that at 1 p.m., he was told to go home by the faculty. While walking through the school, he was attacked by several black males, and one of them hit him in the back of his head. He fell to the ground, and the others began kicking him.
Jermaine Liggins, a 17-year-old black youth, walked home after the riot. On the way, Liggins saw a group of Hispanic males congregated in a park at Fourth Street and Sunland. Liggins said he kept watching the gathering of Hispanics closely, making sure they didn't plan to "jump" him.
So he never noticed the Hispanic youth coming at him from a different direction. Liggins was attacked. He told police the Hispanic youth cut him on the right hand with a razor blade and then fled the scene. The wound was not serious.