Three men have been arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the shooting Tuesday of 17-year-old Forestville High senior Dwayne Satterwhite, Prince George's County police said yesterday.
The three were identified as Napoleon Jordan Jr., 19, of 7620 Burnside Rd., Palmer Park, who graduated from Forestville in 1984; Joseph T. Banks, 17, of 1213 Capitol View Dr., Landover, and Kevin E. Wilkerson, 20, of 7712 Greymont St., Palmer Park. They are being held without bond at the county detention center in Upper Marlboro. All are being charged as adults.
The shooting was the first at a Prince George's County school since 1975, when two students were killed in separate incidents at Suitland and Largo high schools, said Peter Blauvelt, chief of security for county schools.
This is homecoming week at the school, but a pep rally and some of the other activities have been canceled as a result of the shooting, Principal Paul Lewis said. Students and faculty members at the school were in a state of "disbelief, shock and sadness" yesterday, said Bette McLeod, human relations coordinator for county schools.
"There was a very respectful quiet all day," said McLeod, one of a team of psychologists and counselors sent to the school to visit classrooms and talk individually with students and faculty members. "It was almost reverent. You could just see the hurt and grief in their eyes and hear it in their voices."
Maj. James Ross, head of the county police criminal investigation division, said police believe three robbers confronted Satterwhite at about 1:45 p.m. Tuesday in an enclosed hallway between two school buildings. Satterwhite, who apparently did not know his assailants, apparently resisted their attempts to rob him, said Ross.
During a struggle, he said, "they all fell through a door into a parking lot. He [Satterwhite] attempted to flee, and was shot one time," apparently in the back.
In a telephone interview from the county detention center, Wilkerson told reporter Gary Reals of WJLA-TV, Channel 7, that the shooting was an accident that occurred as he and another suspect were passing the gun back and forth.
Asked by Reals who had the gun when it fired, Wilkerson replied, "I had the gun . . . . "
The shooting occurred five minutes after a security guard at the school walked around the grounds and saw no one. Extra security guards have been placed at the school, but will be phased out over the next week, Lewis said.
In a letter to parents sent home with students, Lewis said, "This extreme tragedy will cause all members of the Forestville High School community to mourn and grieve about the loss of a life so young. It is important to realize that this crime is more an indictment of society as opposed to Forestville. We must not allow this crime to affect all the good things and improvements going on at Forestville."
Jean Phillips, supervisor of pyschological services for county schools, said many of the students she talked to "came in sobbing uncontrollably, "but an hour or so later, they were composed. That's why we were here, to give them a chance to grieve."
According to teachers and security officials, the school has had its share of fights and discipline problems, but is not known for gang disturbances or other violence.
Ann Lennox, who taught English to Satterwhite, said her students spent today's class period talking about him and writing letters to his family. Two students wrote poems about him, she said.