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Student Is Shot at School

Boy, 15, is wounded in a science classroom as a pistol in another student's backpack discharges. The owner of the bag is arrested.

June 20, 2003|Jill Leovy | Times Staff Writer

A 15-year-old Jefferson High School student was wounded in an accidental shooting during a science class at the South Los Angeles school Thursday morning, police said.

The student was in stable condition at a hospital with a bullet wound in the thigh, said a school district police spokesman, P.J. Webb. School officials described the victim as a good student and a talented athlete.

Webb said the boy had reached into the backpack of another student, a 17-year-old boy, and inadvertently set off a loaded handgun.

Police arrested the owner of the backpack about an hour later at his home, Webb said. "He will be charged, at a minimum, with possession of the gun," Webb said.

Jefferson Principal Norm Morrow said crisis counselors had been called to tend to about half a dozen students traumatized by the shooting.

Police and paramedics descended on the school immediately after the shooting. The school was locked down for more than 2 1/2 hours as police searched for the weapon. They found a handgun lying in a street near the school, Webb said.

Morrow said the school conducts random searches with hand-held metal detectors. Only one gun had been confiscated at Jefferson in two years before Thursday's incident, he said.

Rodney Xavier, an 18-year-old senior, called the shooting "crazy" and said students assume that the one place they are safe is in the classroom.

"It's outside school where we worry about getting popped," he said.

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