Sat, Feb 03, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Shooting at LA school deemed to be accidental

‘DIDN’T MEAN TO’:The girl reportedly did not know the handgun was loaded. The school district has a policy of daily random metal-detector searches

AP, LOS ANGELES

Parents pick up their children at Salvador B. Castro Middle School in Los Angeles, California, on Thursday.

Photo: AFP

A shooting at a Los Angeles junior-high school classroom on Thursday that left one boy in critical condition, injured four others and had panicked parents in tears was an accident, police said.

The shooting was reported just before 9am and within minutes a 12-year-old girl was taken into custody without incident. Police interviewed her and by evening they announced that they would book her on a charge of negligent discharge of a firearm on school grounds.

The determination capped a frantic day at Salvador B. Castro Middle School in downtown Los Angeles and corroborated what some students told reporters after the lockdown was lifted and they were reunited with parents on the school’s athletic field.

Jordan Valenzuela, 12, was in the classroom next door when he heard a loud bang, he told reporters in a telephone interview with his mother alongside.

He said he talked to the girl just after the shooting and she was sobbing.

“She was like, ‘I didn’t mean to. I had the gun in my backpack and I didn’t know it was loaded and my backpack fell and the gun went off,’” he said.

Shortly after that, he said the girl asked him to hide the weapon.

“She said, ‘If I give you the gun will you hide it for me?’” he said. “I said ‘No.’ Then I moved away from her because I was a little bit scared.”

Shallin Lopez, a seventh-grader at the school, was in the room at the time of the shooting and said she never saw a gun.

“I just saw something pop,” she said. “It was loud. I didn’t see her shoot.”

Police recovered a handgun after the shooting. TV video from helicopters showed a dark-haired girl in a sweatshirt being led from the school in handcuffs, as anxious parents and family members gathered on a street corner, many crying and talking on their cellphones as they waited.

The district has a policy requiring every junior and high-school campus to conduct daily random searches by metal-detector wands at different hours of the school day for students in the sixth grade and up.

Student Melanie Valencia, 13, said the school did a random security search on Thursday, but that she has never been checked.

The school’s campus was placed on lockdown, but most classes continued. The school has about 365 students in grades 6 to 8, almost all of which are Hispanic, with many from low-income families.

“We will attend to the needs of these students who witnessed this very carefully, with the understanding this is very traumatic,” Los Angeles School Police Department Chief Steve Zipperman said. “We have our school mental health folks that are here to support the needs of the students.”

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