School-shooting victim voices fears of returning to Logan charter

Posted: January 30, 2014

IT WAS A LOUD pop, almost as if a balloon had burst. Then came the feeling that everyone in the room was staring.

Finally, the pain settled in. Pain that hasn't subsided, nearly two weeks after that bullet hit Tyler Lewis' arm.

In fact, he says, it's worse since surgeons removed the slug Monday from his right forearm, just below the elbow. It lodged there when Lewis, 17, was shot in the gym at Delaware Valley Charter High School on Jan. 17, allegedly by a classmate he considers a friend.

"I used to think the school was safe, but I'm not sure anymore," Lewis said yesterday at his home on Ruscomb Street near 4th in Olney. "Every school has its problems, but this is different."

Lewis, a fullback for Delaware Valley's football team, said that the only feeling in his right hand is a "pins-and-needles" sensation, and that doctors couldn't estimate when he'll get full dexterity back.

That troubles him - he was set to graduate in the spring and was looking forward to attending Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Now, he's wary even to step inside the school in which he once felt at home.

Lewis was in Delaware Valley's gym, on Old York Road near Duncannon in Logan, standing with his girlfriend as their classmates played basketball. Everything seemed normal for a Friday afternoon.

Then, from across the gym, an argument broke out. Lewis said he didn't see what happened, only heard the raised voices. Seconds later, a bullet tore through the arm of his girlfriend, whose identity Lewis didn't want to disclose, before lodging in his forearm.

"Everybody froze; nobody panicked or anything," Lewis said. "I just remember walking out of the gym and telling a security guard I'd been shot."

Lewis didn't get a good look at the shooter, but police say footage from surveillance cameras shows that Raisheem Rochwell, 17, was holding the gun when it went off.

Rochwell is charged with reckless endangerment, aggravated assault and related offenses. He remained in police custody last night. But Lewis finds it hard to believe that one of his football buddies wanted to hurt him.

"He's my friend. We've played football together at [Delaware Valley], we played Pop Warner together," Lewis said. "I can't believe he meant to do this, if he did."

What's even more confusing for Lewis is how police say Rochwell got the gun - in an illegal sale initiated by Donte Walker, 18, with whom Lewis played football before Walker graduated last year.

"He [Walker] is a good friend of mine, too," Lewis said. "He was a captain last year; we all looked up to him."

That respect inspired the school's administration to invite Walker back, Lewis said. The older teen was a fixture in the hallways in recent months.

"Everybody knows Donte," Lewis said.

Police say they were told that Walker's status as a guest allowed him to bypass normal security measures.

Walker, who also remains in custody, faces conspiracy and gun charges in that alleged sale, according to police.

The school's policy on guests is still unclear. Attempts to reach principal Brandon Holiday and members of the board of trustees were unsuccessful.

All Calvin Lewis knows is that this shouldn't have happened to his son, or to any student.

"I hope something positive comes out of this, that other kids his age understand the seriousness of guns," the father said.

"This could have been a much more serious situation, and we need to learn from it."

Calvin Lewis knows how serious guns can be: His older son, Brian, 25, is recovering from critical injuries, including the loss of his right eye, from a shooting Dec. 8 in North Philadelphia.

"We can't stop everything, but there should be a system in place to prevent [school shootings]," the father said. "I can't help but feel the system's failed us."

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