Student shot at Md. school; suspect held
Monday, August 27, 2012
PERRY HALL, Md. (AP) — A 15-year-old student opened fire on the first day of classes Monday at a Baltimore County high school, getting off two shots and wounding a classmate before being rushed by teachers, authorities said.
Investigators do not believe the victim, a 17-year-old male, was targeted by the shooter, a 15-year-old who is also a student at Perry Hall High School, Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson said. The 15-year-old boy was taken into custody after the shooting and was cooperating with investigators, police said. Police took the weapon, although they did not say what kind of gun it was.
Johnson said at about 10:45 a.m., a student walked into the cafeteria and pulled out a gun. He fired one shot before being grabbed by teachers, and then another shot went off as teachers grabbed him, Johnson said.
Johnson said the shooter acted alone. He did not answer numerous questions from reporters about a motive.
Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger said it was too early to know what charges the shooter would face. Police said they would work with prosecutors to determine whether he would be charged as an adult.
The victim remained in critical condition at Maryland Shock Trauma Center on Monday evening, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Jordan Coates, a 17-year-old student who was in the cafeteria at the time of the shooting, said the student used a shotgun. Coates said he watched teachers, including guidance counselor Jesse Wasmer, pin the student against a vending machine.
“My back was to the door. I heard a pop and thought it was a bag because people do that, but then I heard another one,” Coates told The Associated Press. “And I turned around and a teacher had a kid pinned up against the vending machine, and I saw the barrel, and another shot goes off and people just start running.”
Coates credited Wasmer with helping to stop the shooting, and numerous students took to Twitter to thank him.
“He grabbed the gun from the kid and got him” until other teachers came over, Coates said.
Detectives were interviewing the suspected shooter Monday afternoon, Baltimore County police spokeswoman Elise Armacost said. Officers spent several hours searching the school and found no other weapons or suspicious materials, she said.
Although no one other than the 17-year-old was shot, several people suffered cuts and bruises in the ensuing melee, Armacost said.
“We have some heroic and brave faculty members,” Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance said. “They responded very quickly to minimize damage.”
The school was evacuated, and students were escorted to a nearby shopping center and middle school.
Perry Hall is a middle-class community along the Interstate 95 corridor, northeast of Baltimore city. The school is the largest in the county, with 2,200 students.
Police planned to provide additional security when the school reopens on Tuesday, and stress counselors were called in to work with students, faculty and staff.
Cathy Le, 15, said students were panicking as they tried to find out what was happening. They texted and called each other frantically as they were locked in their classrooms for more than an hour, she said.
At the scene, buses, emergency vehicles and parents in cars filled the roadway between the high school and the shopping center. There were obvious signs of relief displayed as parents found their children.
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