Shocking Riverview ‘ambush’ part of violent trend involving school attacks shared on social media

8 On Your Side

WFLA

RIVERVIEW, Fla. (WFLA) — Chloe Gallahan says she was about five steps up a Rodgers Middle School stairwell when a classmate ran up from behind, pulled her down to the concrete floor by her hair and started punching her as someone recorded the attack.

The video, recorded and shared on social media during the first week of school, became part of an investigation by the school district and a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office resource officer, but the young suspect was not charged.

Gallahan, 13, suffered scrapes and bruises. Her mother KayCee says her daughter’s backpack saved her from a life-changing injury.

“It was premeditated. It was an ambush. I was angry and I can’t believe the other child wasn’t charged,” KayCee Gallahan said. “The resource officers kept calling it a ‘petty act.’ It was far worse than that. It’s hard to hold back tears. No child should ever go through this.”

Gallahan says the attack was unprovoked but adds that her classmate “had a grudge” against her since they were in the 6th grade.

“I don’t know why,” the teenager said.

A public records request revealed by Oct. 10, just 43 days into the school year, there had been about 19 fights a day in Hillsborough County’s 280 schools. There was an average of 15 fights a day during the 2018 school year, the district’s most recent full year.

And at Rodgers, where Gallahan’s daughter was pulled down the stairs and punched, there were 12 fights during this year’s first 43 days of school. That’s one more than the entire 2018 school year at Rodgers.

Chloe Gallahan says the video of the incident was shared on social media platforms, including Instagram and Snapchat, adding ridicule to the pain of the assault.

“I knew that everybody had saw it and they thought it was funny,” Gallahan said. “I didn’t find it funny. Some kids said, ‘When’s your next fight?’ It made me very uncomfortable.”

District spokesperson Erin Maloney emphasized recording and sharing fights on social media is “a nationwide issue.” Maloney added the district has reached out to parents through a Public Service Announcement, asking them to educate their children about making wise choices.

A letter sent to parents in early October from Superintendent of Schools Addison Davis said the district will be strictly enforcing its Code of Conduct which includes options of up to 10 days of out-of-school suspension, expulsion and other ramifications.

“We will not tolerate acts of aggression, violence or destruction of property,” Davis said. “As our children continue to be exposed to dangerous challenges posed to them through social media, we strongly encourage you to monitor their use of cell phones.”

The Gallahans say one issue in the district is punishment is not harsh enough.

“It was annoying that she got only five days suspension and I had to completely switch schools,” Chloe Gallahan said.

Her mom called the punishment a “slap on the wrist.”

“These students should be held accountable for their actions,” she said. “Giving them five days suspension is a vacation and tells them they can come back to school and do whatever they want.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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