West News Wire: Just days after a shooting near their campus left two adolescents dead and two others injured, students at a high school in Chicago organized a classroom walkout to protest gun violence.

In the Pilsen district on the southwest part of the city, students at Benito Juarez Community Academy left their classes and congregated around a temporary monument where the shooting took place on Friday. The students urged the city’s authorities to increase campus security and combat gang activity.

Many of the students staged a memorial for the victims while releasing balloons into the air.

“I want Benito Juarez to be safer because, honestly, I felt like this situation wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t a lot of gang activity around the school,” one of the student protest organizers, Kiya, told a news channel. “It’s scary for people like me, who are not gang-affiliated, that have to go to school every day and then wonder, ‘Dang, am I going to get shot?'”

Gunfire erupted around 2:30 p.m. Friday just outside the Benito Juarez campus, police said. Killed in the shooting were 15-year-old Brandon Perez, a Benito Juarez student, and his friend, 14-year-old Nathan Billegas, a freshman at Chicago Bulls College Prep, family members told WLS. Chicago police said both victims were shot in the head.

Two other teenagers, a 15-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl, were hit by gunfire and are expected to fully recover, according to police.

During a news conference Friday evening, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said the shooting occurred just as school was being dismissed for the day in staggered phases.

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No arrests have been announced in the case.

“We are conducting a pretty aggressive investigation and all of our resources are being dedicated to insure that we bring these people to justice that caused this,” Brown said.

Police released a surveillance image Saturday of a person they believe was involved in the shooting, running away from the scene.


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