ELLIS COUNTY, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – A 15-year-old student in Texas was injured in a shooting in her high school cafeteria Monday morning and a 16-year-old boy, also a student at the school, was taken into custody, sheriff’s officials said.
The girl was airlifted to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas following the shooting in the small town of Italy, some 45 miles south of Dallas, said Sgt. Joe Fitzgerald of the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office. The shooting happened at about 7:50 a.m. in the Italy High School cafeteria.
“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,” said Lee Joffre, superintendent of the Italy Independent School District, which has about 600 students.
Joffre said that on a typical morning, there would be about 45 to 55 students in the cafeteria.
Ellis County Sheriff Chuck Edge said the suspect “engaged the victim” and fired several shots from a semi-automatic .380 handgun before being confronted by a school district staffer and fleeing. Edge did not say at the Monday afternoon news conference how many times the victim was shot. Officials have said that they don’t know the relationship between the victim and shooter.
“I saw him take out the gun and shoot the girl. After he shot her twice, he tried to shoot the guy she was with. He just went out the back door,” said sophomore Edgar Rodriguez.
“I was in there when it happened,” said student Danaisia McCown. “I thought at first it was a balloon. That’s what it sounded like. I looked around and heard it again. Everyone took off running. I jumped under the table.”
Edge said that after the suspect left the cafeteria, he was arrested by law enforcement on school grounds. Edge said the handgun was recovered at the scene and is in evidence.
Edge said he did not yet know what charges the suspect might face. He also said he was currently not aware of a motive in the shooting and did not know where the suspect acquired the firearm.
Edge referred questions on the girl’s condition to the hospital, and Parkland spokeswoman April Foran said she could give no information.
When asked whether the suspect had any previous disciplinary issues at the school, Joffre said the district cannot release such information.
Joffre said school will be in session Tuesday and grief counselors will be on campus.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)