The South Country school district increased its security presence on Monday, the first day of classes since the bodies of two students were found among those of four young men in a Central Islip park — all believed to be victims of MS-13 gang violence.
The district added two security guards to Bellport High School and two full-time school resource officers from the Suffolk County Police Department, school officials said.
The district also activated a crisis team to help students at the high school, school officials said. Officials said that the district has “increased its security measures.”
The moves come after last week’s suspected gang-related killings of four young men whose bodies were found in the park at Clayton Street and Lowell Avenue. Two of those slain — Justin Llivicura, 16, of East Patchogue, and Jorge Tigre, 18, of Bellport — attended Bellport High, according to relatives.
“We are deeply saddened by the news, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families,” South Country Superintendent Joseph Giani said Friday.
The district has “planned for student and staff support services for Monday and throughout the week,” he said, adding that those services also will be available in schools that the victims’ siblings attend. It was unclear which other schools are included.
Counselors, psychologists and social workers are included on the school-based crisis team. Bellport High had an enrollment of about 1,300 students in grades nine through 12 in 2015-16, the most recent state figures available.
“I am both proud and confident that our students, staff and school community will demonstrate compassion and the unconditional support needed as a result of this senseless tragedy,” the superintendent said.
Classes in many of Long Island’s 124 systems resumed Monday after public schools were closed last week for spring break.
Several families and residents in Bellport said Friday they were caught off guard by the news that two of the victims had gone to the high school.
The Mann family, who live on the street where Tigre lived, said they had a conversation Friday morning with their daughter, Amber, 16, an 11th-grader. She shared lunch period with Tigre.
“It’s so sad,” said Debra Mann, 59, the teenager’s mother. “I can’t believe it’s been happening in Brentwood and now it came over here, to our own backyard.”
Amber Mann said the presence of MS-13 gang members seems to have grown since she has been in the high school, and she wasn’t aware of any gang prevention programs offered there.
Peter Mann, 69, said he has taken precautions to keep his family safe, such as putting an alarm system in their home. He called the location “a quiet block” and said the family hasn’t had any issues since they began living there several years ago.
“We keep close tabs on her. We trust her,” Peter Mann said of his daughter. “But we’ve been talking about it since this morning and we’ll keep talking to her. These gangs used to be far away from us, but now it’s just right down the street. This hits home and it’s sad.”
Last year, officials in the Brentwood school district adopted security and crisis protocols after four Brentwood High School students were among those killed in slayings that law enforcement officials said were committed by gang members.
School officials there increased their vigilance for suspicious activity. In addition to using metal detectors for random checks of classes, they approached students who were seen wearing bandannas, especially in colors associated with gangs, or flashing hand signs to identify their affiliation.
Those students were told to change their clothing or correct their behavior or were sent home. Counselors also were brought into the district to help students who may have known the victims.
With Scott Eidler