Investigators were also continuing to look into the possibility
that the boy, who has not been publicly identified by authorities,
warned some friends before carrying out the attack on Tuesday at
Berrendo Middle School in Roswell, police said.
Students were to return to the school on Thursday with an increased
police presence in the area, a New Mexico State Police dispatcher.
The shooting, in which an 11-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl
were seriously wounded, occurred in the school gym, where students
tend to wait during inclement weather before classes begin. There
was no immediate word on a motive.
"We did find evidence that the suspect had planned this event," New
Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas told reporters, while
declining to reveal any more details.
The shooting was the second at a U.S. middle school in the past
three months and comes in the midst of a contentious national debate
on gun control that intensified after a gunman killed 26 people at a
school in Newtown, Connecticut.
In the New Mexico shooting, the boy had modified the weapon, a
20-gauge shotgun, and he had three rounds of birdshot in it,
Kassetas said. Police said the boy entered the gym with the gun
concealed in a bag.
The shooter fired all three rounds, with one going into the ceiling
of the gym, one into the floor and one 12 to 15 feet away, into the
stands where students were gathered, Kassetas said at a news
The shooting lasted just 10 seconds before a teacher, identified as
John Masterson, stepped forward and persuaded the boy to put down
his gun, officials said.
JUVENILE CHARGES EXPECTED
The boy will be formally charged as a juvenile, possibly on
Thursday, Roswell-based District Attorney Janetta Hicks said.
The suspected shooter will not be charged as an adult because of his
age, in accordance with New Mexico law, Hicks said. No one under age
14 in the state can face adult sanctions, she said. Police and the
district attorney said they were discussing the evidence before
deciding what charges to bring.
The boy was being held at an "appropriate children's facility" in
Albuquerque, 170 miles to the northwest of Roswell, said state
police spokesman Lieutenant Emmanuel Gutierrez.
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According to local media, the boy's parents released a statement on
Wednesday that said a judge has ordered the boy to undergo mental
health evaluation and treatment.
"We are horribly sad over this tragedy on so many levels," they
wrote in the statement, which was also signed by the boy's
grandparents, according to two local television stations and CNN.
"We are praying that God will be with everyone who has been
Reuters was not able to confirm the authenticity of the statement.
The students who were wounded did not appear to have been singled
out, Kassetas said.
A spokesman for University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas, to
which both wounded children were airlifted on Tuesday and where they
underwent surgery, said the boy was listed in critical condition,
while the girl's condition was said to be satisfactory.
In October, a 12-year-old boy in Sparks, Nevada, opened fire at his
school, killing a teacher and wounding two students before killing
Another shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012 prompted
President Barack Obama to call for sweeping new gun control
Most of Obama's proposals were defeated in Congress, but his
administration this month sought new regulations aimed at clarifying
restrictions on gun ownership for the mentally ill and bolstering a
database used for firearms background checks.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles;
by Laila Kearney in San Francisco, Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento,
California, and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; editing by Cynthia
Johnston, Bernadette Baum, Gunna Dickson, Lisa Shumaker and W Simon)
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