The shooting at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell took place in a
gym where students had gathered to stay warm from the frigid weather
outside before the start of class, Governor Susana Martinez told
"The shooter was quickly stopped by one staff member who walked
right up to him and asked him to set down the firearm, which he
did," Martinez said. CNN quoted Martinez as hailing the intervening
teacher as a "hero" for his action.
The wounded children were an 11-year-old boy, who students said had
been shot in the face, and a 13-year-old girl, whose condition was
serious but improved after surgery. The boy underwent two rounds of
surgery and was in critical condition.
The adolescent shooter, who was not identified, remained in police
custody on Tuesday night, New Mexico State Police Chief Pete
Kassetas said. He had come to school that morning with a 20-gauge
sawed-off shotgun concealed in a bag, Kassetas added.
The boy's motive remains unclear, police said, but student Monique
Salcido, a friend of the two children who were shot, told CNN he had
been bullied at the school.
"I don't want to go to Berrendo anymore because of what happened.
Because I'm afraid it's going to happen again," Salcido told CNN.
The shooting was the second to take place at a U.S. middle school in
three months, after a 12-year-old boy opened fire at his middle
school in Sparks, Nevada, in October, killing a teacher and wounding
two students before killing himself.
It comes amid a contentious national debate on gun control that
intensified after a gunman shot dead 20 students and six staff
members at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in
December 2012. Following that attack, President Barack Obama called
for sweeping new gun control measures.
Most of Obama's proposals were defeated in Congress, but his
administration proposed new regulations this month aimed at
clarifying restrictions on gun ownership for the mentally ill and
bolstering a database used for firearms background checks.
Around 1,500 people attended a prayer vigil at a Roswell convention
center on Tuesday evening, where they sang and hugged each other.
Others expressed sympathy and support for the city of some 48,000
residents in southeastern New Mexico through social media websites
Governor Martinez, speaking at the vigil, praised the intervening
teacher, whom she identified as "Mr. Masterson".
" walked right up to him and asked him to put down the firearm,"
Martinez said. " stood there and allowed a gun to be pointed right
The Roswell Independent School District's website listed John
Masterson as an eighth-grade social studies teacher.
Sixth-grade student Anyssa Vegara said she had been talking to a
security guard when she heard a shot.
"I turned around and all I saw was someone on the floor with their
arm bleeding," Vegara told the Albuquerque Journal.
[to top of second column]
The wounded students were taken to a local hospital after the
incident and then flown by helicopter to University Medical Center
in Lubbock, Texas, about 150 miles east of Roswell, as the facility
was better equipped to handle the most severely injured patients,
said hospital spokesman Eric Finley.
At a news conference late Tuesday, Martinez identified the girl as
Kendal Sanders and said she was recovering from a wound to the
shoulder. She did not identify the 11-year-old boy, saying his
family had requested privacy at a difficult time.
"He is in critical condition and they want to focus on their son,"
Martinez said. The boy had sustained injuries to his face and neck,
Earlier reports had put the wounded boy's age at 12 or 14 and the
girl's at 12.
On Tuesday evening, police were serving three search warrants in the
case, Kassetas said, examining the boy's locker, a bag and the boy's
home, a residence in the Roswell area.
"We got some preliminary information that possibly some of the
students were warned by the suspect prior to the shooting not to go
to school," he said, adding this was not confirmed.
Kassetas said the shooter was not believed to have had help from
others. He also praised the intervening teacher.
"It's one thing for an armed state police officer to enter the
school and do his or her job. It's another thing for a teacher... to
intervene in a situation like this," he said.
The school, which was placed on lockdown after the 7:30 a.m.
shooting, serves students in grades six through eight. Teachers had
received training on how to react to a shooter.
A staff member at the school received "very minor injuries" and
declined medical care, Martinez said. It was unclear if that was the
same person who asked the boy to give up his shotgun or how the
staff member was injured.
"I can stand here and tell you that in the 10 seconds that
transpired from the time of this thing starting until the teacher
had control of the weapon, there was no cowardice," said school
district Superintendent Tom Burris.
Classes at Berrendo Middle School are canceled on Wednesday and will
resume on Thursday, Burris said.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles and Laila Kearney in
San Francisco; additional reporting by Karen Brooks in Austin,
Texas; Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, California; and Eric M.
Johnson in Seattle; editing by Cynthia Johnston, Bernadette Baum,
Cynthia Osterman, Lisa Shumaker and Gareth Jones)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.