WASHINGTON (AFP) - Police in California arrested a 14-year-old boy in connection with a shooting at a high school near Los Angeles on Friday (May 11) that left one hurt, the local sheriff’s department and education officials said.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff said the suspect had been detained near Highland High School in Palmdale, 65km north of downtown Los Angeles.
Both were students at the school.
“Deputies responded immediately to Palmdale shooting, arrest made, weapon found, active investigation under way. Reasonably sure threat is contained,” department spokesman Jim McDonnell tweeted.
The suspect was a “male Hispanic juvenile,” the sheriff’s office said, later clarifying that the weapon was a rifle that was “recovered off campus.”
The sheriff’s office said a boy had been shot in the arm at the school and was in stable condition at a local hospital.
Local media reported that the victim, also 14, was wounded as he was getting out of the car that brought him to the campus.
Agents with the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) were heading to the scene, the agency said.
About a half hour later, calls were received about “shots fired” near Manzanita Elementary School, around 13km to the west, the sheriff’s department reported, adding that officers found no evidence of a crime there.
Deputies said they had secured both locations, and were investigating.
“We are all concerned about the safety of our children,” Palmdale School District Superintendent Raul Maldonado said in an alert.
“It has been confirmed that earlier this morning, there was an active shooter on the Highland High School campus. Apparently, the person was already apprehended.
“I want to let you know that all of the Palmdale Elementary Schools were put on lockdown, and will stay on lockdown until the situation is confirmed as safe for our students, teachers, staff and parents.”
Highland confirmed in a tweet that it saw “no threat” to pupils and added that staff were working with law enforcement to determine release procedures for students.
Students and relatives related their experiences to broadcaster CNN. Ricky Munoz, 23, says he dropped his two younger brothers and a friend off at the high school just after 7am.
"About a minute later, I get a call from them saying there were gunshots" and they asked to be picked up, Munoz said.
One of the brothers, 16, told Munoz he heard one gunshot, and that students were running.
Nadine Luke told CNN her 18-year-old daughter called her, screaming, after she heard shots in the school. The teen was in her Reserve Officers' Training Corps class, and said students were putting sofas and desks in front of the classroom door and windows to barricade themselves inside, Luke said.
"All authorities are telling us right now is that they are working on the situation," Luke said. "The only thing I want right now is to have my daughter right here."
Lydia Gilbert, a junior at Highland, said her mother was dropping her off when a student ran up and warned her there was a shooting. Lydia said she then heard two gunshots before she and her mother drove away.
"I was supposed to be going to school earlier than I was, but was late," she told CNN. A shooting at the school, she said, has "actually been one of my biggest fears."
Highland High student Katharina Smith, 16, said she was driving to the school when she saw "a ton of police racing towards school."
"There were some kids running from the school, and security and sheriff were telling people to go home," she said.
A student's mother, Ana Salazar, told CNN affiliates KCAL and KCBS that her son texted her to say a shooting had happened.
"I thought he was joking, and I'm like, 'Don't mess around, that's not funny,'" Salazar said. "And he's like, 'No mom, for reals, I locked myself up. I heard it at the other side of the school. There was one shot. And I'm locked up in one of the buildings now.'"