By Stacia Glenn / The News Tribune
It was supposed to be a fistfight.
Some teenagers arranged to meet Tuesday in a secluded wooded area on Eustis Hunt Road East, about 20 yards behind Graham-Kapowsin High School, and duke it out.
A crowd gathered by 2:30 p.m.
But for some reason, the fight never started. At least three teens hopped into a green Chevrolet Impala and started to drive away.
“As they drove off, they fired into the crowd,” Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.
Two 16-year-old boys were wounded. At least one of them was not believed involved in the fight, but was there just to watch.
After being shot, both teens made it back to campus at 22100 108th Ave. E. One was found in the parking lot by the football field, the other in the school’s locker room.
The victims were taken to a hospital. Both underwent surgery. One parent posted on Facebook that their son was shot four times. The other victim was shot in the leg.
By 11 p.m. Tuesday, detectives had arrested a 17-year-old believed to be riding in the car where shots were fired from.
Then they released photos of two more teens wanted in connection with the shooting and the alleged getaway car. Within an hour, more than 240 people retweeted the photos.
Early Wednesday, a Tacoma police officer spotted the Impala parked near a home. The second suspect, another 17-year-old boy, was taken into custody.
The suspects were uncooperative and declined to identify the third suspect, who was pictured wearing a dark jacket with a teal hood.
One of the suspects was a student at Graham-Kapowsin High, Troyer said. The other two are not. Both were booked into Remann Hall Juvenile Detention Center and are expected to make a court appearance Wednesday afternoon. Charges would not be filed before Friday, according to the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office.
Detectives are asking anyone with information on the shooters to call Tacoma-Pierce County CrimeStoppers at 800-222-TIPS.
“We are confident that with your help we will bring swift justice and peace of mind for the hundreds of students and parents affected by today’s shooting,” the Sheriff’s Department wrote on its social media accounts.
Troyer said other arrests might be coming because investigators are not sure how many people were in the Impala when shots were fired.
“There’s a lesson to be learned here,” he said. “If you’re going to go to a fight and shots are fired, those bullets are going to go until they hit something or someone. And if you’re a part of it, you can be held responsible.”
After the shooting Tuesday afternoon, officials put the school on lockdown and called 911.
Deputies searched the school and determined the shooters were not on campus. Then they started sorting through social media and interviewing witnesses to determine what happened.
Students were kept on lockdown at four schools — Graham-Kapowsin High, Frontier Middle School, Nelson Elementary School and Graham Elementary School — until 4:30 p.m.
Other parents could not be reunited with their children until after 6 p.m.
“It is scary, but I know my son is OK,” said John Gutierrez, 41, of Frederickson.
He was heading to pick up his son from an after-school drama program when he received a text message from his son saying the school was on lockdown.
About 3,000 students were affected by the lockdowns, according to the Bethel School District.
Investigators said they are unsure what the pre-arranged fight was supposed to be over or how many people were involved.
Counselors were on hand at school Wednesday and extra security was provided.