Several in custody, classes cancelled after big fight at Youngstown high school


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) –Students at East High School in Youngstown were sprayed with pepper spray and several were placed in handcuffs after a large fight in the cafeteria.

Dozens of officers went to the school, and six people were taken away by police, including one man who tried to climb into the school to get his child out. At least one person has been charged after the fights, but police expect more charges to be filed.

Youngstown City Schools Superintendent Steve Stohla said the situation Tuesday was chaotic; he had to shout instructions to the crowd of parents, because there was no other way to let them know what was going on.

“There were some angry students, and they used this as an excuse to have a boxing match,” he said.

Stohla said school will be closed the rest of the day and Wednesday, upon the advice of the Youngstown Police Department. Stohla said the closure Wednesday is to give students a chance to calm down. He plans to deal with the violent students on Wednesday.


Student Isiah Helms said he was in the back office when the fights broke out, and police used pepper spray to break it up. He said he immediately went outside.

“They called the SWAT Team up here, blocked all the entrances, blocking every door, letting no one out, no one in, and my sister is in there,” Helms said.

Student Courtney Ross said she was upset by the use of pepper spray by police.

“I had in contacts. I was trying to walk up the stairs, and it was burning, but everything was going blurry, so I tried to hurry up and take them out. Then it started burning even more, because I guess I broke the seal with the mace, so it got on my actual eye. So they started pouring milk on everybody’s face that got maced and stuff,” she said.

Tawanna Dowd, senior class vice president, said she is sick of the violence in her school.

“This is sad. This is sad. This is a place where you are supposed to feel protected. This is supposed to be our home,” she said. “You come to school fearing for your life, fearing that someone is going to try to attack you.”

Dowd said she will be back when school reopens, but she has a message for families of the kids who caused trouble.

“I truly believe that it starts at home. It starts at home where you are, and parents need to enforce some sort of discipline into their children,” she said. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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