2.11.2012

Bullying gone wrong? Former North Forest ISD student accused of shooting classmate delivers public statement to the press

Warren Lewis (center) delivers his prepared statement as his attorney Tanika Solomon (left) and Deric Muhammad looks on.

by Brother Jesse Muhammad

It seemed like a very unusual legal maneuver, but 18-year-old Warren Lewis made a public statement to just about every news station in Houston on Feb. 7 at the Phoenix Outreach Center in 5th Ward.

The former North Forest ISD student is being accused of bringing a gun to North Forest High School, unleashing five rounds and shooting and injuring an innocent student who is still in recovery.

Based upon the comments I’ve read on various sites, the public has already convicted him, however, two community leaders, Deric Muhammad and Jarvis Johnson, a former city councilmember, wanted to meet with the young man in a private session to hear his side of the story. That meeting lasted for an hour leading up to the press conference.

We called this meeting today because we wanted to meet with Warren Lewis. We wanted to feel his spirit, to ascertain how this could have been prevented. After meeting with Warren Lewis, I’m a firm believer that Warren Lewis is a young man of great ambition who failed victim to his frustration,” said Muhammad in his words to the media.

“If we as a community had been doing our job then we believe it could have been prevented. On behalf of this community, we take responsibility for what happened. I believe we failed Warren Lewis, we failed the injured party, and all of the other children who have been hurt by the situation…We have to send a strong message to our youth that violence is not the vehicle by which we solve our problems. It has never worked for us in the past, it’s not working for us now and it will not work for us in the future,” said Muhammad.

Press conference at Phoenix Outreach Youth Center in Houston

Former councilmember Jarvis Johnson and Yolanda Domino, mother of Warren Lewis

Jarvis Johnson speaking to press as Deric Muhammad looks on.

Lewis, who was slated to graduate in May, served as a member of student government and once ran for the crown of Mr. North Forest, is now enrolled at a juvenile justice alternative school due to the recent incident.

As he delivered his prepared statement he seemed to be on the verge of tears and didn’t crack a smile. He wanted everyone to know that he was a victim of bullying and he had a message for his peers.

"When you're facing something that you can't handle alone, like bullying, harassment and just people making threats, call out for help. Say something,” said Lewis. “Don’t hold it in. Don’t try to handle it yourself. My message to my peers is stop trying to hold it in. Let’s change the cycle. Stop the violence.”

His mother, Yolanda Domino, was present as well. “On behalf of my son, Warren Lewis, myself and my entire family, I’d like to extend my deepest and sincerest apologies to the young man that was injured in the incident. We pray every day that he gets better,” she said.

Domino also said that they have been unable to stay in their home since the Jan. 11 incident due to being targeted by gunfire in a possible retaliation aimed at her son. In regards to her son being allegedly bullied she said, ”I know that I’ve been to the school more than once to talk to the principal and the police officers, teachers, about these boys bullying my child and nothing was done.”

His attorney, Tanika Solomon, told the press that her client could not answer questions related to the case. She also said that they are still undecided about taking the case to trial.

“Warren was seriously considering joining the Navy. Obviously this is going to slow his process down. He wanted to use his experience in the Navy as an opportunity to go to college. He also mentioned he wanted to major in business. He has not counted that out. Warren has resolved that he will not be known just as the young man who was involved in a shooting at North Forest, but wants to be known as someone who overcame,” said Solomon.

“I’m very impressed with this young man. I’m very impressed with the fact that he’s been involved in government at his school. He’s run for Mr. North Forest. He’s made A’s in physics. He’s a good student,” said Johnson. “But I’m saddened at what he’s had to go through at this particular time. Bullying has become a sexy topic in American media…but bullying is only bullying as long as we as adults allow it to happen.”

On Wednesday, Feb. 8, Deric Muhammad, Marilyn Gambrell of No More Victims, Inc., and a host of community leaders held a stop the violence rally down the street from North Forest High School. Warren's mother was present as well handing out flyers to announce a defense fund being raised for her son's case. (Rally photos below)