Police have arrested a Queens teenager and three Brooklyn men after a fight near Franklin K. Lane High School in Woodhaven last week that sent two students to the hospital with stab wounds.
Louis Staton, 18, of Queens, was arrested March 8 along with three others: Marvin Smith, 18; Rasheem Pastures, 22; and Louis Tesfa, 16, all from Brooklyn, said Officer Chris Cottingham, a Police Department spokesman.
They were each charged with second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, and criminal possession of a weapon.
Two Franklin K. Lane students, whose names were not released, were treated at Jamaica Hospital for stab wounds to the stomach and back.
The fight, which stemmed from a morning argument in front of the school March 8, involved about a dozen youth and ended on the elevated tracks above Jamaica Avenue at about 2 p.m., said Deputy Chief Patrick Timlin of the Queens Detective Borough Command.
"We have reason to believe this might have been gang-related," he said, although a motive was not known. As of press time, police were still searching for a fifth suspect.
Police recovered a blood-stained knife near the elevated train tracks where two of the suspects fled west on foot. Two other suspects ran south on 75th Street but all four were caught by school safety officers and police from the 102nd Precinct.
A section of 75th Street was blocked off and J-train service to the Elderts Lane station in Woodhaven was suspended for four hours while police and EMS workers searched the area for weapons.
Known for its reputation as a gang-ridden school, Franklin K. Lane High School is no stranger to violence. Three years ago more than 100 young people were involved in a brawl that erupted on school grounds.
But students say the school, which straddles the Brooklyn-Queens border, has grown a lot safer since Principal Paul Pedota arrived there about two years ago.
And the incident last week was the first time students could remember police activity at the school since October, when a school safety officer collapsed and died in the stairwell of the school, apparently of a heart attack, on his way to clear up a small fight.
Gangs such as the Latin Kings and the Bloods were once much more prevalent at the school, students said, but not any more.
"Since we got this principal, Mr. Pedota, it's gotten a lot better," said a 19-year-old senior who did not want his name used. "I used to be afraid to come here."
Senior Latesha Bushell said people used to loiter on the streets and sidewalks surrounding the school building, creating a menacing atmosphere for those walking by. But a new policy has ended that practice, she said.
"You can either stop hanging out and go home or go to detention. A lot of people go to detention cuz they don't want to go home," she said.
Amaryllis Ruiz, a 14-year-old freshman at Franklin K. Lane, said she resented the attention fights like last week's brought on the school.
"Every time this happens it's bad because everyone thinks Lane is bad," she said. "There's gangs at all schools, not just here. Every school has its problems, but Lane is a good school."
©2000 Community News Group
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