DOS PALOS -- The security bubble surrounding the 5,000 or so people in the city of Dos Palos burst a little this year after a double homicide in January.
More air was let out of their bubble amid recent reports of a student with a gun and gang-related fights at Dos Palos High School.
As a way to shore up public confidence, the school board hosted a forum Monday night to address the increase of gang activity in the town.
And officials stressed that, despite recent episodes, actual violence in the community has declined from last year.
About 50 members of the community met in the cafeteria of Bernhard Marks Elementary School to hear Dos Palos Police Chief Barry Mann and Dos Palos High School principal Gregory Thompson talk about violence on the high school campus.
On Jan. 5, there was a double homicide in the city. Four suspects were arrested in connection with the crime. The motivation of the crime was said to be gang-related, according to police.
The incident that upset some school board members and parents happened three weeks ago when one student told school officials that another student showed him a gun after school at an off-campus basketball game. He said he was looking for another student, according to Mann.
"To my knowledge I don't know if the person they were looking for was ever injured because of the vague content," Mann said. "I don't believe it was gang-related."
Thompson said a fight between two students two days before led to the gun incident.
After the fight, students were also reportedly looking for the car and home of another student so they could jump him, Thompson said.
Both school and police reports were spotty in terms of the details of the incidents. Neither the principal nor Mann could confirm that all the people involved were gang members.
Two weeks ago, the school hired a campus resource police officer to address future concerns. The Dos Palos Police Department has seven police officers, plus Officer Dan Carter and his K-9, Scar, will work on the high school campus throughout the school week.
Thompson said that despite the recent events, the school has had fewer incidents of violence on campus this school year than last.
"To date there have been 29 incidents of violence," Thompson said. "In the same period of time, there were 67 or 69 last year."
Tensions have subsided since the incident, Thompson said.
There are more problems with violence in the community than in the schools, Mann said.
Yet because the school culture often mirrors the city, precautions should be taken to ensure safety at school, Thompson said.
People want their bubble back.
Reporter Jamie Oppenheim can be reached at (209)385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.