A Philadelphia student is saddened after his opportunities to attend senior prom and graduation were stripped by his school chief administrator.
Dashawn Walker was shot on Feb. 21 as he was walking home from school in North Philadelphia. He was less than a block away from home when the shooter hopped out of a gray Nissan and opened fire.
He was shot 10 times and a 13-year-old girl was also shot once in the arm by a stray bullet, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Nine of the bullets shattered bones in both of Walker’s legs and the 10th bullet ripped through his intestines. One of the bullets still remain somewhere in his body but doctors couldn’t find it.
He was 17 at the time of the shooting.
Walker was in coma for two days at Temple University Hospital and then spent a week in the intensive care unit. In total, Walker spent a month at Temple and a month at Shriner’s Hospital for Children’s rehabilitation center.
Walker had to learn to walk again and his legs are held together with metal rods. He had more a dozen surgeries and lived with a colostomy bag for three months. He says he still struggles with anxiety, depression, and nightmares.
In addition to his long recovery process and missing a good portion of his senior year, Walker was not able to experience two of the best moments of his teenage years. He was stripped of the opportunity of attending prom and graduation by the top official of his high school. He attended Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School.
Veronica Joyner, the school’s founder and chief administrative officer, became concerned after watching the news the day after the shooting. She didn’t understand why someone would shoot Walker and heard the police captain say he was a “target,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Joyner said she gathered the board immediately and decided it would be best if he didn’t return to the school for in-person learning or school events, which included prom and graduation. His teacher and counselors helped him with remote learning so he could graduate in May.
“If you’re a target, do I bring that target around other people and get them caught up in a shooting?” Joyner rhetorically asked the Philadelphia Inquirer during an interview. “We would be placing others at risk by having him around.”
The shooter was identified by police as 20-year-old Michah Roane. Walker expressed that the two live in the same neighborhood, but he has never spoken to him and doesn’t know why he was targeted. Roane is now facing attempted murder, illegal gun possession, and numerous other charges.
Police were able to identify Roane by the clothes he was wearing in a surveillance video at the time of shooting and a witness identifying his voice. He posted a video in those same clothes earlier that day and police recovered the clothes during a search of his home. They also found the 9mm handgun used in the shooting at the home.
“Maybe he was looking for someone with the same hoodie as me, or the same backpack as me,” Walker said to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I just know me and this guy never had no conversation, no argument, no bad blood, no fight over no girl, nothing.”
Walker and his mother Mildred Brockington feels the school is not being supportive and treating him like a defendant instead of a victim.
“It made me feel like I’m nothing, like I deserve nothing,” said Walker to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Brockington told the reporters that she wanted her son to transfer to the charter school because the violence increased around the area of the first high school he attended. Walker went to Vaux Big Picture High School for the first three years of high school. The school is also located in North Philadelphia.
“He’s so hurt,” Brockington said to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “She is treating him like a criminal.”
Jane Roh, spokesperson for the district attorney’s office, confirmed Walker and his mother claims of not being involved with any criminal activity before the shooting.
Joyner said the decision was made because she had to think about the safety of all the students.
“I’m looking at the violence in this city and making a decision not to place everyone at risk,” said Joyner in a separate interview. “It’s a safety issue. The only thing I could do was protect everyone else.”
She also added that she has always been impressed with Walker because he is “not one to give up.” She told reporters that he was interviewed three times before being accepted.
“My heart goes out to Dashawn, but I didn’t create the situation,” Joyner said in an interview. “My actions didn’t involve me in something that got me shot.”
She also added, “It’s not a requirement that I provide him with a graduation or prom. It’s a privilege.”
As for the shooter, records show Roane was affiliated with other people who were involved in shootings around the area. He currently remains in custody at the city jail and prosecutors have referred the case to a grand jury.