What to Know
- Two students, both 15, were struck by gunfire inside a classroom at Sal Castro Middle School
- The 12-year-old believed responsible was booked on a charge of negligent discharge of a firearm, police say
- Police searched classrooms during a campus-wide lockdown
Prosecutors filed felony charges Friday against a 12-year-old girl accused of carrying a loaded weapon in a backpack that went off in a middle school classroom injuring four students.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office filed one felony count each of minor in possession of a firearm and weapon on a school grounds. The charges were filed a day after the shooting terrified students, staff and parents at Sal Castro Middle School, police said.
"This continues to be an active investigation," the LAPD said in a news release. "However, at this time, the information suggest that this was an isolated incident, involving the negligent discharge of a firearm, where innocent children and a staff member were unfortunately injured."
The LAPD believes that the semi-automatic handgun went off inside the student’s backpack, Detective Meghan Aguilar confirmed.
Twelve-year-old Jordan Valenzuela, a classmate of a 12-year-old girl, told The Associated Press that he talked to the girl just after the shooting.
He says she was sobbing and kept repeating, "I didn't mean it."
He says she told him that the gun was in her backpack and that it accidentally went off when she dropped the bag.
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."
Benjamin Urbina, another classmate of the 12-year-old girl, also says the girl didn't mean to shoot anyone, saying she thought it was a toy gun.
The victims, a boy and girl, are both 15 years old, police said. The boy was hospitalized in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the head, fire officials said. His condition was later upgraded to serious, but stable.
A trauma surgeon said the boy was "extremely lucky" that the trajectory of the bullet did not hit anything vital.
The girl was in fair condition with a gunshot wound to the wrist, according to the fire department. Three other individuals suffered non-gunshot injuries, such as minor scrapes.
"It was a very traumatic experience for students inside that classroom," said Steve Zipperman, chief of LA School Police.
It was not immediately clear how many students were in the classroom at the time of the shooting. Some students ran from the classroom as the gunfire started, police said.
Authorities also recovered the weapon.
"One of the main missions we will have is the issue of finding out how a young person had access to a weapon," Zipperman said. "I assure you, if it came from an adult in a home that the proper prosecutorial procedure will occur."
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer wants accountability for any adults who left the gun within the girls' reach.
"It's a requirement that adults safely store their firearms," Feuer said. "There's a reason for that requirement; safely stored guns save lives."
Several students were taken out of classrooms and searched by police during the campus lockdown. Anxious parents waited on nearby street corners for updates.
Gloria Echeverria was waiting outside a line of police tape preventing people from approaching the school, waiting for news about her 13-year-old son.
"I'm just hoping it has nothing to do with him," she said. "I'm just scared for all the kids -- school is supposed to be a safe place for them, and apparently it's not."
The father of a 12-year-old student said he came to the school after learning about the shooting.
"You can't process it," he said. "It's my son and everybody else's kids in that school."
School police asked parents to call an information hotline at 213-241-1000.