(REUTERS) - A student armed with a shotgun opened fire at a California high school on Thursday, critically wounding a fellow student before two adult staff members talked the boy into giving up his weapon, and he was arrested, authorities said.
The shooting comes less than four weeks after a December rampage at a Connecticut elementary school where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults in an attack that shocked the nation and has fueled a heated national debate over gun control.
The latest shooting unfolded Thursday morning at Taft Union High School in the Kern County town of Taft, about 49km south-west of Bakersfield and about 161 km north of downtown Los Angeles. One student critically wounded by gunfire was airlifted to a nearby hospital, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said.
A second student received minor injuries while falling over a table trying the flee the classroom, and a third student was taken to a hospital complaining of hearing loss from the sound of a gun blast, MR Youngblood said.
The lone suspect, a 16-year-old male student, was arrested after a teacher and a school administrator who confronted him persuaded the boy to put his gun down, Youngblood told a televised news conference.
His identity was not immediately released, but police said the suspect apparently had a disagreement with the student who was critically injured.
Sheriff's deputies called to the scene went room-by-room to secure the school, and television news images showed students lined up on the sidewalk outside the school, with parents stopped in cars to pick them up.