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Memorial forms honoring victim of shooting on Menchville High School campus

Students at Menchville High School and Woodside High School will return to classes on Thursday. Additional safety measures will be in place.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — A memorial honoring 17-year-old Justice Dunham grows outside Menchville High School.

Friends and even mere strangers dropped by throughout Wednesday evening to leave flowers, a football, light candles, and say a prayer.

It was on Tuesday night when Newport News police say a fight in the parking lot, following a basketball game, led to gunfire. 

18-year-old Demari Batten, a Warwick student, is charged with second-degree murder and firearms charges. 

People from Menchville and Dunham's school, Woodside High, mourn his loss.

One of Dunham's friends, who did not want to appear on camera, told 13News Now that the Woodside student-athlete was a funny kid and a hard worker.

Newport News Public Schools Superintendent Dr. George Parker said that, in his career, he had never seen an instance like what happened Tuesday night.

"It affects me personally to know that our students can't have a sense of normalcy, come to a game, enjoy the fellowship of other students," said Dr. Parker.

After classes were canceled Wednesday, students at Menchville and Woodside High Schools will return Thursday.  

And while the shooting happened in the Menchville parking lot, Dr. Parker said both schools will notice more security and additional searches on Thursday.

"In many cases, we want to make sure that that deterrent is visible – that our staff and students see this effort that's made to ensure we are checking randomly students on campus and that we're going to consistently do that as we move forward," said Dr. Parker. 

It's also been roughly three months since a teenage student opened fire inside Heritage High School, suspected of shooting two fellow students.

Dr. Parker mentioned additional safety measures were introduced this year.

"We'll do all that we can do, but we also need to make sure that we're getting that community support," he added. "Nothing we do can guarantee the safety of every child every day. It takes a community. It takes families, individuals to work with us.”

Dr. Parker also said it will take a community effort to teach today's youth about conflict resolution and gun safety.

The school division also announced that all of Menchville and Woodside sports events are put on pause. Their after-school activities are canceled this week too. 

Grief counselors will be on-site at both high schools Thursday. 

For mental health support, there’s a 24-hour community hotline for students, parents or staff can call at (757) 788-0693.

The Newport News school division also has a line open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at (757) 283-7868.

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