LONG BEACH (CBS) — A Gardena High School student who allegedly brought a gun to campus that discharged while in his backpack, injuring two students, made his initial appearance in a Long Beach courtroom Friday, but a decision was still pending on whether he will be tried as a juvenile or an adult.

The 17-year-old boy, who already is on probation for a misdemeanor battery charge, was charged Thursday with one count each of possessing and discharging a firearm in a school zone.

The teen, whose name was withheld because of his age, will be back in court Feb. 18, when a date is expected to be set for a hearing to determine if he will be tried as an adult or a juvenile. Prosecutors want him tried as an adult.

If his case remains in juvenile court, the boy faces a maximum sentence of nine months in a juvenile camp. If he is tried as an adult, he faces up to seven years in prison, according to Jane Robison of the District Attorney’s Office.

Outside court, the teen’s court-appointed attorney stressed that the boy is not charged with shooting anyone.

“The minor has not been charged with intentionally shooting anybody,” Jack Fuller told reporters gathered outside the courthouse. “He is charged with bringing a weapon onto school grounds.”

Members of the teen’s family refused to comment as they left the courthouse.

According to police and prosecutors, the boy carried a loaded 9-mm Beretta in his backpack to school on Tuesday. The gun fired a single bullet at 10:40 a.m. when he reached inside the backpack, apparently to get something to eat, while in a classroom, authorities said.

The bullet struck a 15-year-old boy in the neck, then hit a 15-year-old girl in the head. The boy was released Wednesday from Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, but the girl remains hospitalized in critical condition.

The 17-year-old boy fled into another classroom, where he was captured during an intensive search of the campus.

Two other students — a 15-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy — were arrested for allegedly helping the boy escape, but prosecutors declined to file charges against them, citing insufficient evidence.

Sources told the Los Angeles Times that in the chaos after the mid-morning shooting, the suspect gave his backpack to a girl and that another boy provided him with a sweatshirt to change his appearance. One of the suspects also was suspected of giving him money for bus fare to flee the area.

Police said the backpack has not been located.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

Comments (6)
  1. alan hart says:

    By virtue of the act, he has shown that he is not a functioning adult. Brains of Juveniles are not equipped to make rational decisions. This is why we have Juvenile courts.

    1. Erosas says:

      Im glad to see someone on here has sense.

    2. krg says:

      So does that mean the guy that shot the cop in Woodland Hills the other day isn’t a “functioning adult” either? i’d say this kid proved he is by the fact he dumped the back pack, changed clothes with another student and ran. This proves he knew absolutely everything about this situation was wrong and illegal. It also proves he should be punished as someone who knew what he was doing was wrong.

      Deciding to take a gun to school or not to take a gun to school is not a matter of “rational decisions”. I’m guessing the majority of people here would tell you that they knew at 17 that it wasn’t a bright thing to do, let alone a legal one.

  2. punisher says:

    He wants to be a big bad ass man and carry a gun then he must be tried as an adult. at 17 you should know that it is wrong and illegal to possess a firearm. It being loaded shows his intent to hurt someone. get him off the streets.

  3. swhit says:

    No child should be tried as an adult – PERIOD! This is why we have a Juvenile court system.
    You may find your own child in a similar situation one day and he may be innocent. Stick to the law otherwise we have chaos.

  4. sad says:

    Its a sad situation that kids do not feel safe and have to carry guns to school. I think of trying to make this kid sound like an animal they need to figure out why he had the gun and where he got it from. He should not be tried as an adult. He is still young and throwing him in prison could make the situation worse.

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