16 now charged in Rich South High School fight

October 3, 2013 (RICHTON PARK, Ill.)

That brings the total number of students facing legal troubles from the melee to 16.

The Southtown Star reports a 14- and 15-year-old are charged with felonies for making a bomb threat and planting a fake bomb at Rich Central High in Olympia Fields Monday.

That prompted an evacuation of 1,400 students from the school, who were bused to rival Rich South. Once they were there, someone pulled a fire alarm, sending about 2,800 students from both schools outside where fights began.

It took police about an hour to control the violence. Twelve students are facing felonies. Four are charged with misdemeanors. Three students and a teacher were injured.

Police say there were multiple fights among multiple, unrelated groups of students. It wasn't just a single fight that grew out of hand. Police also say the vast majority of the students who were arrested are female. And 911 calls show that even after officers arrived on the scene, the fighting didn't stop. The calls came from school officials who were overwhelmed by the scene around them.

Operator: "911, where's your emergency?"
911 caller: "I need security at South, police at South. We've got a major fight."
Operator: "Ok, where at?"
911 caller: "At the front. I need it right away, as many as we can get."

911 caller: "Hi, we need assistance immediately at Rich South High School. We have Rich Central kids here."
Operator: "OK."
911 caller: "And they are trying to riot. They're all over the place."
Operator: "OK, ma'am."
911 caller: "They're on cars. They've pulled our fire alarm."

"There were several groups fighting, and they weren't even associated with each other. It was not a good situation to have that many kids surrounding the outside of the school," said Chief Elvia Williams, Richton Park Police Department.

911 caller: "We're trying to contain the kids."
Operator: "OK."
911 caller: "I need more police support over here. We're trying to contain them."
Operator: "I understand that. There's more police on the way, and there's an ambulance on the way."
911 caller: "OK. We have a teacher hit."
Operator: "OK, yeah. They're on the way."

"Once we'd break up one fight, in another area of the school, another fight would take place," said Chief Williams.

Seventeen-year-old Crystal Gholson, charged as an adult, appeared in court Wednesday and was accused of hitting another girl multiple times.

"She's not a person who is just going to be lashing out and striking out at anyone in a violent manner," said her attorney, who questioned whether Gholson was among those fighting and pointed a finger at the school district.

"The focus seems to be on persecuting and prosecuting these children. They shouldn't have been there in the first place," said Haley Austin, defense attorney.

"I think the students bear the most responsibility. They know right from wrong, they're high schoolers," said Chief Williams.

Gholson was released on a $20,000 I-bond, which means no money technically had to be paid. The judge said she must maintain a C+ average and attend school every day. She has not been expelled from Rich Central, her family said.

Police say four other female students were arrested Tuesday after showing up at another student's house, attempting to retaliate after the fight. Those four have been charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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