LA schools step up security after student shooting
Thursday, January 20, 2011
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A long line of students on Wednesday waited to get into a Los Angeles high school where two 15-year-olds were shot in a classroom a day before as security officers meticulously searched each student and their backpacks with a metal detecting wand.
The stepped-up security comes after authorities said a 10th-grader carrying a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun in a backpack somehow accidentally discharged it Tuesday when he put the bag down on a desk at Gardena High School.
A bullet pierced a boy in the neck, exited, and hit a girl in the head. The boy was doing well Wednesday, but the girl remained listed in serious condition with a skull fracture.
The girl regained consciousness and could move her body Wednesday morning after surgery to remove a blood clot from her brain caused by the bullet’s impact, said Julie Rees, spokeswoman for Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance.
The 17-year-old suspect, who was already on probation for a fight at school, was arrested. Police said Wednesday two other students were also taken into custody for investigation of concealing evidence.
A boy allegedly traded clothes with the fleeing suspect and a girl took the suspect’s backpack, police Detective A. Batris said.
In an unrelated incident Wednesday, authorities said a bulletproof vest has saved the life of a Los Angeles school police officer who was shot as he confronted a man who appeared to breaking into cars near El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills.
City Police Chief Charlie Beck said the man got out of a car and fired several times, hitting the officer at least once in the chest.
Security experts and school officials say it is almost impossible to completely prevent students from bringing guns onto school campuses, but there are basic precautions that should be followed, including random metal-detecting checks.
Since 1993, Los Angeles Unified School District has required some campuses to randomly check students with hand-held metal-detectors every day at different times.
A preliminary review of security at Gardena, however, showed the 2,400-student school had lapsed in that procedure, a district official said.
There was no check on Tuesday, and possibly not on other days as well, said Deputy Superintendent John Deasy. “I think it’s at least fair to say from the level of review at this moment that it was sporadic,” he said.
After an investigation, disciplinary action will be taken that could involve firing some officials, Deasy said.