The world of high school is where most students spend half of their day. Unfortunately, this is also a place where many misfortunes happen to students. The annual student death rate in high schools continues to increase, with some deaths resulting from bullying, others from accidents, but the death of Adrian “Ajax” Percia on September 10, 1980, was something different.
As the city mourned the passing of Ajax and expressed its condolences with the words “RIP Ajax”, this incident served as a stark reminder of the ongoing issue of gun violence and its devastating effects on individuals and communities. This article will examine the details of the incident and the response from city officials.
Who was Ajax?
Adrian Percia, better known as Ajax, was a student at Spingarn High School, a famous school in his city and state. On September 10, 1980, he was hanging out with friends in the school’s concert hall. During this time, an argument broke out between him and one of his friends, and tragically, he was shot and killed by his friend. While reports claim that this was an accidental death, many students at the school believed it was a murder.
On that fateful day in the auditorium, a group of students, including Ajax, were passing around a .25-caliber pistol. Tanya Brown, a 17-year-old classmate, observed the boys and heard Michael Joseph Pratt threaten to shoot Ajax.
“At first I thought they were playing with the gun,” Brown said. “It was small and silver. Then their voices started getting louder. One dude said he’d shoot Ajax and Ajax say, ‘No, you won’t.’ Then the gun went off and Ajax kind of got up and tried to run away, but his eyes rolled back in his head, and he just fell down and hit his head on the floor.”
Despite Ajax’s protests, Michael shot him, and he died from his injuries. Michael was arrested and charged with homicide, while the owner of the unregistered pistol was charged with possession of a prohibited weapon. The shooting was ruled accidental by the police, but Tanya’s testimony suggests otherwise. The events of September 10, 1980, will forever be remembered as a tragedy that took place in the halls of Spingarn High School.
The shooting incident has brought to light the growing concern about security in the high school system, where reports of students carrying knives and guns and instances of violent incidents have become common.
Despite this, the D.C. School Superintendent, Vincent Reed, stated that the shooting was an isolated incident and did not have any relation to school security. He emphasized that the individual had brought the concealed weapon in his pocket and that even the best security measures could not have prevented it.
The shooting incident caused confusion and shock among the students, staff and administrators. Mayor Marion Barry expressed his deep upset over the tragedy, calling it a senseless and unnecessary loss of a young life. He emphasized the need to find a way to prevent children from carrying guns around.
The incident occurred at 10:30 AM, during the registration process for about 50 students in the auditorium of the high school. The students, who were mostly new to the school or returning after dropping out, were being supervised by several guidance counselors, teachers, and administrators as they went through the processing line to enroll and schedule their classes.
As a result of the shooting, students were seen milling about in hallways and in front of the building, while school administrators tried to restore order and get them back to class.
The Effect on Spingarn High School
Spingarn High School was once a well-respected institution, but after the death of one of its most talented students, its reputation plummeted. As a result, student enrollment decreased, and many students left the school altogether.
The school was closed in 2013, as a result of low enrollment which had dropped to 374 students that year. In the next year, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The death of Ajax was initially reported as a tragic accident, but later it was discovered that Michael Joseph Pratt was responsible. At the time of the shooting, Michael was just 18 years old and was not considered an adult.
According to reports, the shooting was an impulsive decision, and Michael had no intention of killing Ajax. The exact cause of the argument between the two remains a mystery, even to the school authorities.
D.C. Deputy Police Chief Alfonze Gibson, who is in charge of the criminal investigation division of the police department, made a statement regarding the shooting incident that took place at the high school. He stated that there was no evidence of any argument between the boys involved in the incident. Instead, according to the statements taken by the police, all the youths involved in the incident were friends.
Ajax was just 16 years old and had a bright future ahead of him, but his untimely death shocked those who loved him, and they still have not recovered from this loss. The incident has recently gained notoriety on the internet, and the Spingarn High School has been sealed by government authorities and has no plans to reopen. This tragedy serves as a reminder of the dangers that exist in our schools and the importance of addressing issues such as gun violence.