Another school shooting tragedy has claimed a life and left a community reeling to its core Thursday. A student was in police custody over the killing of a 17-year-old classmate after gunfire exploded inside a classroom at Huffman High School in East Birmingham, Alabama on Wednesday afternoon, police said.
The shooting, captured on video, was first thought of as accidental, but detectives turned up evidence that the tragedy was intentional, AL.com reported. The student in question was not immediately identified by Birmingham police.
“Due to their diligent work a person of interest has been taken into custody,” the department said in a statement Thursday as the school was closed. “Charges are pending a review of the case by the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office.”
The student who was killed – an African-American and identified on social media as Courtlin Arrington – was a promising teen who was set to graduate in May and head to college with dreams of becoming a nurse. Her tragic death and the horrible circumstances surrounding it have undoubtedly hurt many of Huffman’s students, teachers and more in the school community and city.
“We’re not just talking about some person, we’re talking about losing a part of our future,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. “Our hearts are heavy.”
Police had begun piecing together the events that lead to the student’s death around 3:45 p.m. Wednesday. A male student was “showing off” his gun when it discharged and struck the female student, sources told AL.com. The student then reportedly accidentally shot himself as he was putting the gun away. However, police officials did not confirm that account.
Birmingham Police Chief Orlando Wilson said that no argument, fight or struggle preceding the shooting incident had been detailed to him.
Arrington was given CPR at the scene and en route to a local hospital, but was pronounced dead upon arrival at 4:16 p.m.. The other teen suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the leg. He was treated in the emergency room and quickly released into police custody. He was later questioned by cops and held overnight in the Birmingham City Jail.
Security was ramped up at the school, and students, as well as faculty, will have access to a full crisis team, officials said. This shooting is the first one at a K-12 school since the horrifying tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day.
Multiple bills have been proposed in the Alabama legislature after the Parkland tragedy as Republicans pushed to arm teachers in schools. Democrats had began seeking measures to limit or ban the sale of assault weapons. The legislature faces a looming deadline before the end of Alabama’s legislative session this election year.