Murder Victim Jacob Pushinsky Quiet and Dedicated Student
Quiet, on-time, just a great young American, words used by teachers and school administrators who knew 18-year-old murder victim, Jacob Pushinsky. The rising senior at East High, was a committed member of the Army Jr. ROTC program at the school. Lt. Col. Joe Russell just retired as the Sr. Army Instructor at East High. "Jacob was a wonderful young man, never caused anybody any problems, this is a tremendous tragedy," said Russell.
Jacob was known for riding his bicycle everywhere. The tragic shooting in what police say was a robbery over that very bicycle, claimed Jacob's life. City councilman and East High teacher Bob Merski had Jacob in his homeroom. "Jacob was a very good kid, very quiet...always punctual, always the first one at the door for homeroom every morning. He loved ROTC. He would wear that military outfit and he was impeccably dressed every day, his shoes were shined, every button was buttoned, he was just a quiet kid and a good kid," Merski said.
Dr. Jay Badams, superintendent of Erie's Public Schools, spent the day considering if there was any thing the district could have done to predict and prevent the tragedy. "It's a huge loss of of two students in this particular case and that's the horror of this rising violence, these were children, people with their whole lives ahead of them," said Badams. "It's just extremely frustrating, I think it's frustrating for our entire community as we try to come to grips with this and try to figure out how do we address the root causes of this kind of violence."
The district has been developing an early warning system to predict and prevent drop-outs. Dr. Badams said the same data points, increased incidents of discipline, school absences and dropping grades could be used to generate a list of at-risk students who are turning away from education and getting drawn into the street culture that is generating so much violence in the community. The district will also continue teacher development that focuses on better understanding the circumstances and home life that each student brings with them to school. "We used to be able to say that's the domain of the parents, community, family and we know we can't do that anymore," said Badams.