ROSWELL, New Mexico (AP) -- A 12-year-old boy drew a shotgun from a band-instrument case and shot and wounded two classmates at his middle school Tuesday morning before a teacher talked him into dropping the weapon and he was taken into custody, officials and witnesses said.
A boy was critically injured and a girl was in satisfactory condition following the shooting at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell.
Gov. Susana Martinez said the students were in the gym, where they typically hang out before classes start during cold and inclement weather. The 12-year-old opened fire with the shotgun there at about 8 a.m.
However, he was “quickly stopped by one staff member who walked right up to him and asked him to set down the firearm, which he did,” Martinez said at a news conference.
Superintendent Tom Burris said the school’s faculty had participated in “active shooter” training, and they responded appropriately Tuesday.
Officials at University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas, said an 11-year-old boy was flown there in critical condition and a 13-year-old girl arrived in serious condition. Her condition was upgraded to satisfactory Tuesday evening.
Information from nurses treating the boy indicates he was the shooter’s target, hospital spokesman Eric Finley said. There was some confusion about the boy’s age, but Finley said his parents told the hospital he is 11.
The governor said a staff member received very minor injuries but declined medical care because he wanted to stay and help.
The suspected shooter, whom police have not named, was transferred to a psychiatric hospital following a hearing Tuesday, according to attorney Robert Gorence, who is representing his family. Gorence said the family will release a statement Wednesday.
On Tuesday night, hundreds of people poured into the Roswell Civic Center for a prayer vigil, including elected officials and law enforcement officers from various agencies. There were many hugs and tears.
State Police Chief Pete Kassetas said the investigation was in the early stages, and authorities were still looking into a possible motive. He estimated more than 100 students and faculty members needed to be interviewed.
“I don’t have a lot of answers as of yet,” Kassetas said, adding police believe they have the only individual responsible for the shooting in custody. The suspect’s name was not released.
A statement from the state police said authorities responded at 8:11 a.m. The school was placed on lockdown and children were bused to a nearby mall, where parents picked them up.
Roswell has a population of about 50,000. It is a center for ranching and farming, and is home to the New Mexico Military Institute, the only state-supported military college in the West. The city is perhaps best-known as the site of an alleged UFO crash in 1947.