(CNS) Posted Tuesday January 18, 2011 – 3:18pmA Gardena High School student brought a gun to the campus in a backpack today, and the weapon discharged -- apparently accidentally -- wounding two fellow students, one critically.
``The person that's responsible for this particular shooting came into a classroom, it appears set a backpack down on a desk and a gun that was inside that backpack discharged,' Los Angeles police Deputy Chief Patrick Gannon said.
``The round from that gun hit both of the students,' Gannon said. ``The student then that was responsible for bringing the backpack into the classroom fled from that particular classroom and went to another. We have subsequently taken him into custody.'
The 15-year-old suspect was taken to a police station for processing.
His name was not released.
Gannon said a 15-year-old girl suffered a gunshot wound to the head and was taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where she underwent emergency surgery.
She was in critical condition. A 15-year-old boy suffered a gunshot wound to the neck, and he was hospitalized in serious but stable condition.
A doctor at the hospital said the boy was apparently shot first, with the bullet passing through his neck and then striking the girl.
The parents of the injured children had been notified and they were at the hospital, Gannon said. About 2,000 children were at the campus, and they were held on lockdown until early afternoon, when parents were advised to go to the gate at Normandie Avenue and 178th Street to pick up their children.
The parents were notified through an automatic phone message system.
Los Angeles Unified School District police Chief Steve Zipperman said students and teachers were interviewed, and grief counselors were sent to the campus.
``As you can imagine, this is still very preliminary as far as the investigation,' Zipperman said. ``We believe that the weapon was inside of a backback, and again, as indicated by Chief Gannon, it appears to be a possible accidental discharge as opposed to intentional, and it appears that perhaps one round was actually fired from that weapon, we don't know how it happened.'
It was unclear how the student got the backpack onto the campus, where metal detectors are manned by school staff, not police.
There was an armed school police officer on campus when the shooting occurred, Zipperman said.
The shooting occurred at 10:41 a.m. at the school at 1301 W. 182nd St.
The school was locked down as police swarmed across the campus in search of the student. Police said the weapon was recovered, and the student was arrested shortly before noon in a classroom that was filled with students and one teacher.
Gardena police Lt. Steve Prendergast said a teacher called 911 to report the shooting.
Gardena High School senior Miguel Lopez, 17, told the Los Angeles Times he was in the health class when the gun went off as a male classmate was reaching into his backpack. He said the student, who he did not know, was not pointing the gun at anyone.
Lopez said two students sitting next to him near the back of the classroom were shot.
A girl was shot in the temple, he said.
``She kind of was crying,' he told The Times. ``She fell back into her chair and fell on the floor.'
The student with the gun ran out of the classroom, and the teacher began screaming, Lopez told the paper.
LAUSD spokesman Robert Alaniz said grief counselors would remain at the campus, and there would be an increased police presence at the campus Wednesday.
By Brenton Garen, Reporter for The Beverly Hills Courier
For story, visit http://www.bhcourier.com/article/Local_News/Local_News/Gun_in_Backpack_to_Gardena_High_School_Discharges_Injures_Two_Students/74047