Another U.S. school became a crime scene Thursday morning when a 16-year-old student opened fire during his first period class and critically wounded a classmate with a 12-gauge shotgun, reports CNN.com.
Two girls were also injured. One sustained hearing damage from the standing close to the gun blast. And another attained injuries in her attempt to flee.
Bullying is suspected to be the motive, according to authorities, but that has not been confirmed.
“There was some conversation about bullying, but we have not confirmed that that is an issue at this point,” Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood told reporters in trying to explain the motivation of Thursday’s school shooting in Taft, about 30 miles west of Bakersfield, California.
The gunman was in custody Thursday after he was talked into dropping the firearm by his teacher and another school staff member, said authorities, who weren’t releasing names of the gunman or the school personnel.
As the shooting unfolded, the teacher in the classroom evacuated his students out of a back door. Then, instead of running for his own life, he engaged the student gunman in a conversation, authorities said.
The teacher suffered a pellet wound to the head from one of the shots fired earlier, authorities said.
The conversation seemed to be a diversion to allow the remaining students to escape, the sheriff said.
The teacher was joined by the campus supervisor — a campus monitor on the school’s staff — and both of them persuaded the student to drop the shotgun, the sheriff said.
“They stayed and probably distracted him and probably allowed students to get out of the classroom,” Youngblood said.
“They engaged in a conversation that talked him into putting that shotgun down that had been discharged at least once,” Youngblood added. “He said, ‘I wasn’t aiming at you,’ and said the name of the student he was aiming at.”
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