Gardena High Shooting Suspect Due In Court

LONG BEACH (CBS) — A student accused of bringing a gun that injured two students to Gardena High School is expected in court Friday.

Two felony charges of bringing a firearm to a school zone and discharging it were filed Thursday by Los Angeles County prosecutors who also asked a court to try the 17-year-old suspect as an adult.

The teen, whose name was not released because of his age, could face up to nine months in a detention camp if convicted as a juvenile, and up to seven years in state prison if he is found guilty as an adult, county district attorney’s spokeswoman Jane Robison said.

He remained in juvenile detention and was scheduled to be arraigned Friday in Long Beach Juvenile Court. Robison said she did not know whether he had obtained a lawyer.

Prosecutors said the teenager was on probation for a misdemeanor battery charge when he carried a loaded 9 mm Beretta semiautomatic handgun in his backpack to Gardena High School on Tuesday.

“When he allegedly reached inside the backpack to get something to eat, the gun discharged a single bullet,” according to a prosecution statement.

Earlier police reports had said the gun went off when the boy dropped the backpack on his desk.

The bullet struck a 15-year-old boy in the neck then hit a 15-year-old girl in the side of the head.

The girl remained in critical condition and was using a breathing tube on Thursday, but she was showing improvement, according to Dr. Gail Anderson Jr., chief medical officer at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

She “seems to be moving her extremities more. She’s much more awake,” he said.

The bullet didn’t penetrate her brain, but it fractured her skull. She was treated for a blood clot and brain swelling, which included removing a piece of her skull temporarily to relieve pressure. She opened her eyes on Wednesday and Anderson said the swelling was reduced, although it was too early to determine whether she might have suffered permanent damage.

“Children respond better, many times, than adults so we’re hopeful,” Anderson said. “But we really can’t tell, probably, until she gets the breathing tube taken out. … We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”

The bullet went through the boy’s neck but missed major nerves, arteries and his spine, Anderson said. He was released from the hospital Wednesday to recover at home.

Authorities said that after the shooting, the 17-year-old fled the classroom and gave the backpack to a girl and got different clothes from another student. Both of those students were arrested on suspicion of helping the boy escape, but Robison said prosecutors were reviewing whether to file any criminal charges against them.

Police have not discussed why the gun was taken to the school.

The school does not have permanent metal detectors. School district policy required staff to make random checks of students each day using handheld metal-detector wands. However, district officials have said the school failed to perform the checks on the day of the shooting.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • notlovinLA

    He was reaching in his backpack to get something to eat and the gun just so happened to hit two people in vital places? YEAH RIGHT! He knew what he was doing and he accomplished what he wanted to do. Thankfully the victims are alive. He should rot in jail where people like him need to be!

  • Francisco Vasquez

    Please let’s try to be objective and not emotional. First, do you even know how guns work? Are you aware that you can accidentally discharge a weapon, if you are negligent or untrained? Second, remember this all could have been avoided if the school department would have been checking students with metal detecting wands. Finally, yes he is responsible for bringing a gun to school and it is a felony;however it is not the same as intending to shoot classmates with intent? Why is his father not being charged? It’s a felony to allow a minor to have access to a gun.

    • krg

      It’s not the same as intending to shoot classmates with intent? Just curious what you think his “intent” was? To have show and tell? To go hunting on his lunch break? He was also already on probation for battery. Lock him up.

      It’s also ridiculous to say this could have been avoided if the school department had checked the students. When I was in school (yes, a hundred years ago) we didn’t have cops on campus, we didn’t have metal detectors, we didn’t have to be searched to be safe. It could have been avoided if the kid DIDN’T BRING A GUN TO SCHOOL. He’s 17, he knew it was wrong (proven by his actions) and he’s the one responsible.

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