INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Sixteen ninth-graders have been arrested and face misdemeanor charges since multiple fights broke out at the Freshman Learning Center Wednesday afternoon.
The fights were the result of “two girls (who) made bad decisions to get into a physical altercation,” Indian River County School District Superintendent David Moore said.
Detectives are still reviewing school security footage and questioning parents as they work to find any students involved in what is being called a series of fights or fistfights around 10.30am at the interior of the ninth grade facility at Vero Beach High School at 1507 19th St.
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“Sixteen (were) arrested at this time,” said Debbie Carson, spokeswoman for the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office. “We know there was more than that actually involved in the fighting.”
In a statement posted to Facebook, Moore said the students’ involvement could result in a 10-day suspension and add an arrest history to their personnel file.
“We are obligated to fully enforce the code of conduct as well as the law,” Moore said in the video.
In a video statement posted to YouTube around 2 p.m. Friday, Sheriff Eric Flowers said additional charges were expected and described the scenario as “a major, major incident at a school.”
Body camera footage in the video shows a deputy in a hallway wading through a crowd of students towards one of the scuffles where what appears to be a school employee can be heard saying ‘stop’ and seen waving to the students amid commotion and shouting.
A Vero Beach police officer is shown on the ground with a student in the video as a deputy approaches, repeatedly telling the crowd to “stand back.”
“No, we don’t know why they were fighting at this point,” Carson said.
At least 15 students face misdemeanor charges of disrupting an educational facility, said Jett Walsh, who works with attorneys from the Juvenile Division of the State’s Attorney’s Office for the 19th Judicial Circuit. .
The penalties they face, if any, Walsh said, “will likely all depend on their background.”
He said attorney Gayle Braun would pursue the cases.
Firefighters reported no injuries or medical transports from the school on Wednesday.
Carson said there were no reports of weapons or improvised weapons like books being used in the fights, which would lead to possible additional charges.
A report on Friday said the school’s vice principal, Joy Griffin, reviewed security footage with deputies to identify “parties involved” in any fighting throughout the building.
The investigation, he said, is ongoing.
Corey Arwood is a breaking news reporter for TCPalm. Follow Corey on Twitter @coreyarwoodor contact him by phone at 772-978-2246.
This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Vero Beach High School students arrested and charged after fights