Suspect in Los Angeles school shooting could face charges

LOS ANGELES — A gun in a 10th grader’s backpack went off Tuesday when he dropped the bag, wounding two students at his high schools, police said.

The 17-year-old could be charged with assault with a deadly weapon and other charges, said police Capt. Bill Hayes.

Hayes said it’s “plausible” that the shooting was an accident, but that the boy was negligent to bring a loaded handgun to Gardena High School, a sprawling 1950s-era school with courtyards and rows of barracks-like classrooms.

John Deasy, incoming superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, said there was no indication the student with the backpack had touched the gun before it discharged.

“He literally dropped his knapsack on the desk, and it went off,” Deasy said.

Deputy police chief Patrick Gannon said the student apologized before running to another classroom. “He said, ‘I’m sorry,’ when the gun went off. It made it appear to the teacher that it was an accident,” he said.

Detectives were trying to figure out where the boy got the 9 mm semiautomatic pistol, which was recovered.

He remained held at a juvenile detention center after police interviewed him and his mother, Hayes said.

Two 15-year-olds were struck with the same bullet, Gannon said.

A girl suffered a skull fracture and bruising to the brain and developed a significant blood clot when the bullet grazed her skull, said Dr. James Ausman, a neurosurgeon at Los Angeles County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

The blood clot was removed, but the girl remained in critical condition. A boy was in fair condition after being shot in the neck.

The teen suspect was on probation for a fight at school last year, Hayes said.

The shooting occurred in a classroom at the school, where Principal Rudy Mendoza said students were on a break. The 2,400-student campus about 15 miles south of downtown Los Angeles was locked down after the incident.

Shedric Porter, 14, said he was walking past the classroom at the time.

“I didn’t see anything, but I heard the shot, and it was really loud,” he said. “I stopped. I was scared. Then I thought it was just a book or something hitting the ground, but it was too loud for that.”

Semaj Elan, a student, was in an adjacent classroom at the time. “My friend came up to me in the classroom talking about how she almost got shot. They’re gonna be traumatized by that,” Elan said.

It was unclear how the student got in with the gun in his backpack, Pollard-Terry said. Arriving students are checked with security wands on a random basis at Gardena High, she said.

No district school is equipped with walkthrough metal detectors.

Deasy apologized to parents, who complained that the district’s automated parent notification system, which issues text message or phone calls in campus emergencies, didn’t tell them about the shooting.

Frantic parents rushed to the school after hearing about the shooting, pacing nervously as they waited behind police tapes for word from their children. Nelda Robledo, one of the worried parents who gathered near the school, said her 16-year-old daughter texted her that students were ordered to get down on the ground or hide in a corner after the shooting.

“I’ve never heard of anything like this before,” said Thomas Hill, whose 16-year-old and 18-year-old children attend the school.

Discipline long has been a problem at Gardena, which ranks as one of the district’s lowest-performing high schools. Roughly 35 percent of students drop out.

Five years ago, more than 2,000 students were suspended, and 15 students were expelled. Those figures remained high until last year when the number of suspensions dropped to 300 and expulsions to two.

The school also was the scene of a shooting in February 2002, when three assailants tried to hold up two students in an outdoor area. Two students were shot.

In the past five years, two students have been expelled for firearms violations at Gardena High.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Clyde Shavers, left, and Greg Gilday.
Shavers wins by narrow margin as Dems flip seat in 10th District

Democrat Clyde Shavers won by 211 votes against incumbent state Rep. Greg Gilday. It’s close enough for a recount.

Arlington
Edmonds man hospitalized after shooting in Arlington

The man, 30, was found Monday night in the 500 block of N. Macleod Avenue after reports of an assault.

A snow plow clears snow off of 92nd Avenue West on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Another dusting, with more snow on the way in Snohomish County?

Light snow showers hit the area Friday morning. Another system was coming in the evening. And yet another next week.

Lisa Lefeber, CEO of the Port of Everett, speaks to a crowd while in front of a sign celebrating the opening of the new Norton Terminal on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, at the Port of Everett in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Port of Everett christens new Norton cargo terminal

The $40 million terminal took two years to complete and doubles the port’s storage capacity.

Permit tech Sheyenne Morton and residential plan reviewer Ryan Hammer help a general contractor with some permit work at the Everett Public Works permit office Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Budget dips, but Everett city union workers in line for 7.5% pay bump

The city’s general government fund could drop $1 million. City leaders say the current path is not sustainable.

Snow lingered outside the office building of Receivables Performance Management on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lynnwood data breach exposed sensitive info for 3.7 million across US

Lawsuits allege lax security at a debt collection agency led to the attack. It wasn’t announced for over a year.

The Washington State Patrol was investigating a fatal crash involving multiple vehicles Thursday on Highway 530 near Oso. (Washington State Patrol)
1 killed, 1 injured in crash east of Arlington

There was no detour for several hours Thursday afternoon as detectives investigated the four-vehicle collision.

Teen killed in Everett crash, shooting identified

No arrests have been made in the Friday night killing of 17-year-old Gabriel Kartak, of Seattle.

The crab doughnut at Market in Edmonds is a strange delight, with a sweet and dense glazed doughnut topped with bright and briny dungeness crab salad, nutty browned butter and a shower of smoky bacon bits. (Taylor Goebel / The Herald)
This idyllic dining destination is right in Snohomish County

Edmonds boasts fresh seafood, Caribbean-inspired sandwiches, artisan breads, cocktails and more.

Most Read