AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – A media investigation digs deep into why the Georgia National Guard’s Youth Challenge Academy at Fort Gordon shut its doors and who leaders say is to blame.

It’s a story we told you about back in October.

“So one person got into a fight and then the whole other platoons got into a fight at the same time,” said former cadet Mykel Jordan.

We first shared news of the massive fight that broke out at and ultimately shut down Youth Challenge Academy at Fort Gordon back in October. That’s when we sat down with Mykel Jordan and his mother, who returned from what should have been a five month program four days later.

Jordan told us then, “…and then my sergeant ran out there and all of us followed him to the fight and that’s when we seen everybody being poked up and stabbed and my sergeant got knocked out.”

He had experienced what we now know was a brawl involving 70 teenagers enrolled as cadets at the boot camp. The Atlanta Journal Constitution investigated that incident, speaking with more than a dozen parents and their kids and leaders of the program. What they found was parents claiming that the issue stemmed from rival gang affiliations. The problem led to reports of kids making weapons, including metal shanks, crudely sharpened toothbrushes and tube socks filled with metal padlocks, according to the report. The investigation also reports a second riot happened the next day, with more than two dozen teens. That event shut the program down and all 170 cadets went home and were barred from Fort Gordon for one year.

The AJC digs into the cause and points to leaders poorly screening cadets in order to meet a new enrollment quota last fall. The article claims the small staff was forced to deal with high-risk candidates because they failed to screen for behavioral and mental health challenges.

“A sergeant got on the phone with me and the words from the sergeant was ‘come get your child, if you can meet me at a Circle K I will bring him to you but you can’t come on the base.’ I asked him what was the problem and he told me he couldn’t discuss it over the phone,” said Erica Franklin, mother of the former cadet.

NewsChannel 6 reached out to the Georgia National Guard for answers about the article. In a lengthy statement, a spokesperson points to its cadets from class 44 as to why this happened saying, “…violence in some Georgia schools has increased 200% and we are not immune from this trend.”

The spokesperson described the brawl saying, “several cadets were sent to the hospital and no cadets offered any information to describe the incident.” The response, barment letters issued to the entire class, which was deemed a growing risk and to ensure safety. They add, “The YCA is dedicated to help our troubled youth and we cannot run an “at-risk” youth program at zero risk.”

The Georgia National Guard spokespersons declined to speak further on the matter for this story. But we did learn from the Georgia Youth Challenge Program’s website that the show is going on. An Information Session is scheduled online for Thursday afternoon with more scheduled for this month and the coming months.

The full statement reads:

“While YCA is a very important program it is not a core mission of our organization. The YCA is dedicated to help our troubled youth and we cannot run an “at-risk” youth program at zero risk. We do not have the infrastructure, staffing, or training to run something along the lines of a Regional Youth Detention center. The YCA is a voluntary program and does not accept cadets from detention centers or the court system. Juvenile records are not accessible and we have very limited legal avenues to verify statements by cadets during the intake process. We work hard to continuously employ lessons learned to improve the overall program as we have over 18,000 graduates and 28 years of experience. Furthermore, violence in some Georgia schools has increased 200% and we are not immune from this trend,” said a Georgia National Guard spokesperson.

“Issuing the barment letters for class number 44 ensured the immediate safety of the students, cadre, employees, and residents of Fort Gordon. The Garrison is responsible for the safety of all who work and live on Fort Gordon. The fights among the cadets which led to the cancellation of class 44 were deemed a growing risk warranting immediate response; several cadets were sent to the hospital and no cadets offered any information to describe the incident. The barment action prevented further hostile activity as cadets departed the campus. The letters do not serve as any form of punishment, they simply ensure the safety of the entire Fort Gordon community,” said a Fort Gordon spokesperson.