ITALY, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Students at Italy High School returned to class Tuesday, just one day after a teenager pulled out a gun and started shooting in the campus cafeteria. Only one other student was seriously injured during the attack, but many of the school’s 265 students heard the shots.
The rest of the school day was canceled. The school district has made grief counselors available for students on Tuesday.
Families came together Monday night for a prayer vigil, as the entire community continues to process what happened at the campus. Their thoughts are with the 15-year-old girl who was shot multiple times. The 16-year-old male suspect was arrested and is now in juvenile dentention. He will make his first court appearance on Wednesday.
School leaders declined to speak about any past problems related to the accused student.
Authorities in Ellis County searched the suspected gunman’s home. Several people at the high school said that the shooter felt rejected by his victim, but officials are still investigating the motive. “I’m praying not only for the young lady, but also for the guy who did this. I’m praying for his family,” a neighbor said.
A firefighter who came to the victim’s aid said that she was shot at least six times.
Superintendent Lee Joffre said that he visited the victim at Parkland Hospital on Monday. The teen had a message for those at the prayer vigil, encouraging words for everybody to hear. Joffre told the crowd, “She said, ‘Mr. Joffre, you tell them, if I can recover, so can they.'”
“It’s an amazing demonstration of her strength,” Joffre added Tuesday. “She was in a great mood. She was able to tell jokes, have a full conversation with us. The librarian went with me, who happens to be my wife. She went with me. The girl loves to read. She asked that the books be brought to her.”
Extra police officers will be at Italy High School throughout Tuesday. Police canine units arrived early in the morning, before students and staff members, to check the building. Nothing suspicious was found, but officials hope that it will provide some peace of mind for those heading back to the campus.
“It’s just one more thing to make everybody feel safe and comfortable,” explained Capt. Chris Hamilton with the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office.
Joffre said, “We’re looking forward to recovering from this and learning from it and moving forward.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the victim’s medical expenses. You can get more information here.