Wilmington, state leaders express grief over death of high school student

Paramedics walk outside Howard High in Wilmington Thursday morning. (John Jankowski/for NewsWorks)

Paramedics walk outside Howard High in Wilmington Thursday morning. (John Jankowski/for NewsWorks)

Local politicians made statements following the Thursday morning death of a Delaware high school student.

Wilmington’s Mayoral candidates expressed their sadness Thursday following the death of a 16-year-old high school student.

The high school sophomore, who has not been named, died after she allegedly was assaulted by fellow students at Howard High School of Technology in Wilmington Thursday morning.

WHYY and The News Journal were jointly scheduled to host a Wilmington mayoral debate focused on public safety at the school, but cancelled it after the tragedy.

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Incumbent Mayor Dennis Williams said he sympathizes with the young girl’s family and friends during their time of grief.

“Our entire city is shaken by the loss of this child’s life, but in this moment we should all come together to work collectively to address the serious needs of our youth,” he said.

“As a community, I know that our strength comes from the commitment that we all have to support our children. Now, more than ever, is the time that we must demonstrate that commitment.”

Candidate Theo Gregory, Wilmington City Council president, expressed his condolences and offered support to the victim’s family, friends and school on behalf of City Council.

“This is a difficult situation for everyone,” he said. “These are the types of incidents that we pray won’t happen, but tragically they do and we find ourselves in a position to help and support each other as we try to learn from what happened. Council offers its support to the family and to the school during this period of mourning and healing.”

Candidate Kevin Kelley, a former City Councilman, said the incident hits home because he’s a personal friend of the family.

“I haven’t had a knot like this in my stomach for quite some time. My thoughts and prayers are going out to the members of the family and Howard High School,” he said. “It is a reality check for all of us about the world we live and how we have to provide more resources and attention to our teenagers.”

Candidate and non-profit leader Eugene Young said as a father he feels deep sympathy for the victim’s family.  

“My heart dropped, it is absolutely horrific to hear. As a father of a girl, I could not imagine the feeling of sending my daughter off to school and hearing she’s never coming home again,” he said. “It’s something that makes you hug your child tighter at night.”

Young added while he doesn’t know enough specific information on the incident to speak on it, he does believe there should be more resources for children in and out of school.

Other political leaders also made statements in response to the incident. State Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington, spoke on the Senate floor following the news.

“We are sad. We are angry. We are ashamed that this could happen in a world we’ve worked so hard to make better. Today, we pray for this beautiful young soul and her family. We pray for the Howard High School community. And we pray for a city that has lost too many of its young people at the hands of senseless violence,” she said.

“Today, we bow our heads for a moment of silent prayer and reflection, but tomorrow we must redouble our efforts to ensure we are doing everything in our power to keep our precious children safe and once and for all rejecting this specter of violence that too seamlessly is able to move from our streets into our schools.”

State Rep. Stephanie Bolden, D-Wilmington, also expressed her remorse and her sympathies for the victim’s family and friends, and the school. She said the tragedy is personal to her, as she is a graduate of the high school.

“As we grieve for a young woman taken from this world too far before her time, we have a duty to reflect on what more each of us can do to make our world safer for children from all walks of life,” Bolden said. “After our tears, we must commit ourselves to positive action in our communities.”

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