Investigation into Selma student’s death, hospitalization of others ongoing

Published: Nov. 9, 2022 at 9:53 AM CST|Updated: Nov. 9, 2022 at 10:17 PM CST
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SELMA, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s large blue and gray mobile command unit vehicle was parked in front of Selma High School Wednesday, a day after one student died and several others were hospitalized.

The van is an outwardly visible sign of the ongoing investigation happening beyond the school’s doors. ALEA says it’s assisting Selma police, though little in the way of details have been made available so far.

Selma Police Capt. Natasha Fowlkes confirmed Tuesday that the student, just 16, died and that several others needed emergent care. Dallas County District Attorney Michael Jackson has indicated that the death is likely linked to fentanyl, but Fowlkes has noted that investigators are awaiting a toxicology report to determine the exact cause of death.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency's large mobile command vehicle sits outside Selma High...
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency's large mobile command vehicle sits outside Selma High School where one student died and others were hospitalized on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.(Source: WSFA 12 News)

“Truly, yesterday was a tragic day in Selma,” Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. said in a statement. “We lost another child, and several children needed emergency care at the hospital.”

“There is nothing easy about losing a child and the agony of sitting in an ER waiting to find out whether your child will be okay is a pain no parent should endure,” Perkins said. “To the family, schoolmates, and friends of the deceased, know that your mayor has a heavy heart and grieves with you. Because the deceased is a juvenile, I will not mention him by name, just know that his death is very close to me. I considered him a son.”

Perkins said the city school system is working with the police department, State Bureau of Investigation and the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department to solve the case.

“Be assured that as soon as I receive facts that can be shared with the public, that information will be officially shared with you by law enforcement, school system officials, and me,” Perkins said before cautioning that “jumping to conclusions or making unproven statements” would only interfere with the investigation.

“I ask that we not do that. In the meantime, let us continue in prayer for the family, all of our children, and the entire community,” the mayor explained.

In a letter sent out to parents, Selma City Schools Superintendent Zickeyous Byrd said grief counselors would be made available for students and staff Wednesday.

“When an event of this magnitude touches one family, it affects us all,” Byrd’s letter said. “Selma High is an essential part of this district, and we jointly share the responsibility of developing our vital resource - our children.”

Byrd’s letter was shared by Alabama State Superintendent of Schools Eric Mackey, who said “We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of the Selma High School student. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, classmates, teachers, administrators, and all those impacted.”

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