DALLAS (AP) — A 16-year-old boy accused of shooting a classmate at a Texas high school on Monday had a history of aggressive actions at school, a fellow student said.
The injured student, a 15-year-old girl, was airlifted to a hospital in Dallas following the shooting inside the cafeteria at Italy High School, which is in the small town of Italy about 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Dallas. The boy fled after being confronted by a school district official but was later arrested.
Cassie Shook, a 17-year-old junior at the school, told The Associated Press that she was driving up to the building when she saw “the doors fly open and everyone screaming and running out of the building.” She said she was angry when she learned who the suspect was because she’d complained about the boy at least twice to school officials, including to a vice principal.
“This could have been avoidable,” she said. “There were so many signs.”
Shook said she first went to school officials after the boy allegedly made a “hit list” in eighth grade and her name was on it. Then last year, the boy got angry during a class and threw a pair of scissors at her friend and later threw a computer against a wall, she said.
“I ran out of the classroom screaming, telling everyone to hide because I was scared,” Shook said.
Shook said police came to talk to the class after the incident. She said the boy was removed from the school but eventually was allowed back.
Italy Independent School District Superintendent Lee Joffre said the district couldn’t comment on disciplinary actions involving students. Police have not released the boy’s name and didn’t return a message seeking comment about his past.
Shook said the girl who was shot Monday had moved to the school district a few months earlier. Police said the girl was taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital, where a spokeswoman said she couldn’t release any information about the girl’s condition.
The school district of about 600 students is located near the center of Italy, a town of about 2,000 people that dubs itself “The Biggest Little Town In Texas.” Joffre said that about 45 to 55 students are typically in the high school’s cafeteria in the morning for breakfast. He noted that school would be in session Tuesday and that counselors would be available.
“In a small town, the school district is the center of what goes on for our kids, and this morning’s tragedy hits the heart of this community,” Joffre said.
Ellis County Sheriff Chuck Edge said during a news conference that the suspect “engaged the victim” and fired several shots from a semi-automatic .380 handgun just before 8 a.m. Edge did not say how many times the victim was shot.
Investigators have said they don’t know the relationship between the victim and shooter, or what may have been the shooter’s motive.
Edge said the suspect fled when confronted by a school district official but was later arrested by law enforcement on school grounds. Edge said the handgun was recovered at the scene and is in evidence.
Edge said it’s unclear where the boy may have gotten the weapon. He also didn’t know what charges the boy might face.
On Monday night, about 300 people packed an Italy church to pray for the wounded girl and their shocked community.