COUNCIL BLUFFS — Students started their day Monday at Abraham Lincoln High School talking about the weekend death of a classmate injured in a fight at the school last week.
Dakota Escritt, 17, suffered a severe head injury last Thursday. He died from his injuries Saturday night at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha.
Services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at the Hoy-Kilnoski Funeral Home in Council Bluffs, according to the funeral home’s website. Visitation is from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday.
Police officials met Monday with the Pottawattamie County Attorney’s Office to review the case and possible charges against Gregary Teer, 16. Authorities said they hope to complete the investigation in the next few days.
“We’re still talking to kids. We’re still reviewing video,” said Council Bluffs Police Sgt. Chad Meyers.
After the fight, Teer was charged as a juvenile with assault causing serious injury, a felony, and later released to the custody of his guardian. He also was suspended from school, said Diane Ostrowski, spokeswoman for the Council Bluffs Community School District.
Authorities have not said why Escritt and Teer were fighting in a common area outside the school cafeteria before the start of classes. Escritt was knocked unconscious when his head hit the tile floor. The fight did not involve any weapons.
Traci Stoop, a science and engineering teacher at Abraham Lincoln, was at the scene immediately after it happened.
Escritt “was not in a very good state, and I was standing by him and it was just awful,” she said. “It was just a lot of emotional kids. ... It was pretty bad.
“It was something that a teacher never wants to experience or a student doesn’t want to experience.”
Friends of Escritt released balloons at a memorial Sunday night. On Facebook, the page “Dakota Escritt-Support” garnered more than 3,000 likes by Monday morning.
Escritt was born in Nebraska City and had lived in La Vista and Omaha, residing for a time at the Omaha Home for Boys and Boys Town, according to court documents. For a little over a year he lived with a foster mother.
In 2012, he went to live with his paternal grandmother and step-grandfather in Council Bluffs, who adopted him.
On Monday, the family declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
Ostrowski said students at Abraham Lincoln and at Thomas Jefferson High School, as well as Kanesville Alternative Learning Center and the Tucker Career and College Center, started their days Monday with a period during which they discussed materials provided by school counselors and administrators.
“It’s about encouraging open conversation and mutual respect and not spreading rumors and understanding feelings and where to go to get help if they need someone to help them through the grieving process,” Ostrowski said.
As a precaution Monday, at least four police vehicles were in the Abraham Lincoln parking lot.
“They (school officials) were concerned this morning,” said Sgt. Dale Wissler. “Just as a precaution, we had a larger-than-normal presence at the schools.”
Students at Abraham Lincoln said Monday that Escritt’s death had become a divisive topic.
“It’s tragic. Two lives are ruined,” said Wesley Ruppe, 15, a sophomore.
Dillon Cash, 17, knew Escritt and described him as smart and quiet. Cash was in economics with Escritt and said he would promptly finish tasks assigned at the beginning of class.
“He had it done five minutes later, and everyone else took the whole class,” Cash said.
Support from counselors will continue to be offered as students need it, Ostrowski said. The Green Hills Area Education Agency also is providing counseling support.
This report includes material from the World-Herald News Service and the Associated Press.