Students aboard a school bus had a strange seven-minute ride to Frontier High School in Whittier on Wednesday after they discovered that another student had been shot in the back and arm but nonchalantly asked them to check what turned out to be shotgun pellet wounds.
Frontier High Principal Gabe Moorman said the victim, whose injuries were not life-threatening, is a 16-year-old junior. He didn't tell the bus driver he'd been shot before boarding at a stop near Norwalk and Mines boulevards, and school security met him when he arrived on campus, Moorman said.
The school had been alerted by a resident who reported that a student was shot as he walked to the bus stop, three miles from the campus, Moorman told parents in a note that went home with students. He said counselors would be available for students on campus.
The student was taken by helicopter to County-USC Medical Center, authorities said. The alleged assailant, a known gang member, was arrested later that morning on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon about a block from the shooting, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Eric Giambalvo said.
Details about the suspect and victim were not immediately released.
Two girls on the bus said they didn't know the victim's name but recognized him as a regular rider.
They didn't know he'd been shot until they heard him asking a group of girls at the rear of the bus to look at his back and one of them said, "Oh! You're bleeding."
The two girls declined to give their names. But one, a 17-year-old senior at the 300-student continuation school on Painter Avenue, said the wounded boy didn't appear to be hurt.
"I didn't think it was a big deal," she added.
Sheriff's Department officials said the victim did not cooperate with investigators, refusing to say where he'd been shot or explain why he didn't seek help sooner. It was not clear what led investigators to the suspect.