UPDATE: Community seeking answers after violent fight between teens in Durham park
DURHAM — The greater Durham community is still reeling after a fight broke out between two teenagers at a local park.
At around 7 p.m. last Friday, two teens ages 15 and 16, met at Margery Milne Park off Mill Pond Road in Durham. Police are still investigating the details of what exactly happened next, but a fight broke out in the secluded park.
The park cannot be seen from the road, and early reports suggest two groups gathered there on Friday and tension between the groups. Officials also confirmed tensions between the groups started and escalated on social media prior to the meetup.
One of the two teens who engaged in the fight was hospitalized and remains in critical condition.
School officials confirmed the student attends Oyster River High School, and the other attends St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Dover. Other than that, the investigation is in the police department’s hands.
“This is the most unusual thing that has occurred in the last four years that I’ve been superintendent, that a child would be hurt so severely in a fight,” said Dr. James Morse, Superintendent of Schools for SAU #5. “We’re very, very concerned of course, for the student that was hurt.”
Morse sent a letter explaining the incident to parents, describing what happened and where students who were affected or have any information can go. It also asks parents to monitor where their children are at all times, be aware of which social media their students are using, and to start a dialogue about what happened.
The high school also opened up an advisory today so students could speak openly with adults at the school about the fight. The school also has an existing anonymous tip line called QUICKTIP where students and parents can call in to share information.
“It’s been a very disturbing issue for our community,” Morse said. “Anything like this could happen in Oyster River, and unfortunately it can happen anywhere.”
Other than that, the investigation is entirely under the jurisdiction of the Durham Police Department. Deputy Chief Rene Kelley could not comment on the details of the fight as it involves juveniles and is an active investigation.
Martha Anderson is the parent of two Oyster River High School students and lives near the site of the fight. Neither of her children were involved in the fight, but news of what happened shocked her.
“I know that kids can get carried away [on social media], and it makes me very sad when that happens because they lose a sense of their own worth,” Anderson said.
She also said in the 14 years she’s lived in Durham, she can’t recall anything like this happening before. Still, she hopes more can come from this than a troubling story.
“I certainly hope that there’s a good support system for both kids, and I certainly hope that something’s learned from this,” she said. “I feel like the only tragedy is when you don’t learn.”