A 12-year-old girl was taken into custody Thursday after a shooting in a Los Angeles middle-school classroom in which five people were injured, including a 15-year-old boy who was shot in the head but expected to survive, police said.
The boy was listed in critical but stable condition at a local hospital after the shooting at Salvador B. Castro Middle School. A 15-year old girl who was hit in the wrist was in stable condition, Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson Wendy Reyes said. The two victims were students at the school, but it was not immediately clear whether the girl who was taken into custody was also a student there, she said.
“The person of interest is 12 years old,” said Steven Zipperman, chief of the Los Angeles School Police Department, in a news conference. “This is preliminary information that we have received.”
The most seriously injured victim, the boy shot in the head, was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center and remained in intensive care during the afternoon but was doing well.
“This child was extremely lucky,” said Dr. Aaron Strumwasser, a trauma surgeon. “The trajectory of the bullet did not hit any vital structures that were an immediate threat to life.”
The shooting was the latest outbreak of gun violence at a U.S. school.
On Jan. 20, a 15-year-old boy opened fire at a high school in Benton, Ky., killing two students and wounding several others, authorities said.
In Thursday’s shooting in Los Angeles, three people had slight injuries from shrapnel in addition to the two who were shot, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesperson Erik Scott told the news conference. Those three victims ranged in age from 11 to 30 years old.
Los Angeles Fire Department spokesperson Erik Scott briefs the media in Los Angeles on Thursday. (Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press)
A gun was recovered from the scene, police said.
The middle school and a neighbouring high school were placed on lockdown after the shooting, as parents stood outside hoping to be reunited with their children.
Instruction would continue at the school on Thursday, with counsellors helping students deal with the emotional aftermath of the violence, officials said.
Castro has about 365 students in Grades 6-8 and many are from low-income families.
The school district has a policy that requires every middle and high school campus to conduct daily random searches for weapons, using metal detector wands, at different hours of the school day for students in the sixth grade and up.
An audit released in April found 10 per cent of schools did not conduct daily searches and one-fourth did not have enough metal detector wands.
Gloria Echeverria watches as Los Angeles police officers close off a street where a shooting occurred at a middle school on Thursday. (Amanda Lee Myers/Associated Press)
Melanie Valencia, 13, said the school did a random security search Thursday, but she’s never been searched.
“It’s crazy because I don’t know how she got the gun,” she said.
Authorities said they were seeking to determine how the gun was brought on campus. Zipperman said students most commonly take a gun from the home of a parent or other family member.
In the past, adults have been prosecuted in Los Angeles for allowing children access to guns, Los Angeles city attorney Mike Feuer said at the news conference.
If authorities determine the girl was the shooter, she would not be the youngest person to open fire at a school. In 2000, a six-year-old boy shot and killed a classmate at a campus in Michigan, according to media reports at the time.
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