LOS ANGELES: A shooting at a Los Angeles middle school classroom 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 9 a.m. 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.
In a telephone interview with his mother alongside, Jordan Valenzuela, 12, told The Associated Press he was in the classroom next door when he heard a loud bang. 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. She 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 semi-automatic 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 phones as they waited.
Diego Salinas had just dropped off his 12-year-old sister and was stunned when she called minutes later to say there had been a shooting.
“There were so many things crossing my mind,” said Salinas, who was still shaking hours later. “I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. I wanted to run. I wanted do so many things.”
Claudia Anzueto, Jordan Valenzuela’s mother, said the boy was crying when he called her from a borrowed cellphone to tell her he was OK.
“Not safe, very insecure,” Anzueto said of the school. “I fear for my son’s life. You know what I mean, you really hear about things like this in the news, and just to hear that something like that happened so close to home, it scared the life out of me.