A 15-year-old boy was shot and wounded in a junior high school computer lab Tuesday, Feb. 12, in Oxnard, Calif., and another eighth-grader was taken into custody, authorities said.
Worried parents gathered outside the 1,150-student E.O. Green Junior High School, which was locked down. Students were released classroom by classroom.
The wounded boy had improved since arriving at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in extremely serious condition, police spokesman David Keith said. "We are guardedly optimistic he will make a recovery," he said.
The 14-year-old suspect was being booked for investigation of attempted murder, Oxnard Police Chief John Crombach said.
The victim was a constant target for other boys, as he would reportedly wear women’s jewelry and makeup, and had declared himself gay, according to the Los Angeles Times. Investigators have not verified if the boy is indeed gay.
The shooting occurred near the end of the first period, during an English class that had moved from a classroom to the computer lab, said Jerry Dannenberg, superintendent of the Hueneme School District.
Dannenberg said 22 other students were in the lab at the time.
The one-story campus, which includes grades six though eight, does not have metal detectors.
"I still think the school is safer than any other place in society," Dannenberg said.
Keith said 40 officers arrived within minutes of getting calls of a shooting. The victim was found on the ground and the suspect was apprehended a few blocks away, Keith said.
There was a dispute between the boys but it was premature to state a motive, Keith said.
"This appears to be personal in nature, some bad blood between them. It was not random," he said.
Police did not release the name of either student involved and did not describe the victim’s wound. Keith said the weapon was a handgun but he did not know how many shots were fired.
Police were interviewing other students in the lab at the time of the shooting. Students elsewhere in the school were told through loudspeakers to stay in place, he said.
Parents were notified that school would be in session Wednesday, Feb. 13, and a crisis team would be present.
"This kind of incident is the most difficult for police officers," Keith said. "A 15-year-old should be allowed to go to school and be in a safe environment but this sort of thing happens all over the country."
The school is in south Oxnard near a Navy base at Port Hueneme in Ventura County, northwest of Los Angeles.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 15, 2008