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2 teens wounded, female suspect, 12, in custody

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Two students were shot inside a Los Angeles middle school classroom Thursday morning and police arrested a female student suspect. (Feb. 1)
AP

A girl believed to be 12 years old was arrested Thursday at a Los Angeles middle school as a suspect in a classroom shooting that left two teenagers wounded, police.

The students were hit when gunfire erupted shortly before 9 a.m. at Salvador B. Castro Middle School just west of the city’s downtown, police said.

One of the students, a 15-year-old boy, was in critical condition from a gunshot wound to the head. A 15-year-old girl, who was hit by a bullet in the wrist, was in fair but stable condition, according to Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott.

Three others, including a 30-year-old woman, suffered non-gun-related injuries, according to police.

TV footage showed a girl with dark hair and wearing a sweatshirt being led out of the school in handcuffs. 

Steven Zipperman, chief of the Los Angeles United School Police Department, said preliminary information indicates that the female suspect is 12 years old.

“With the suspect in custody the situation is under control,” Sgt. Edward Bernal, of the department, told KTLA-TV. He said a weapon had been recovered. 

School shootings by girls are rare. One of the most well-known cases was Brenda Spencer, who targeted Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego in 1979.

The 16-year-old killed a principal and a custodian and injured eight children. When asked about her motivation, she reportedly said “I don’t like Mondays.”

The school was placed under lockdown for several hours while students were searched.

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The school has about 365 students in grades 6 through 8 and most are Hispanic and many from low-income families.

Last week, a 15-year-old boy was arrested on murder charges after police said he killed two and wounded more than a dozen others in a shooting spree at a rural Kentucky high school.

While school shootings are always alarming, James Alan Fox, a professor of criminology, law and public policy at Northeastern University says schools are, by and large, safe. “They’ve been safe for a long time,” he says. “They remain safe.”

Research shows that school shootings’ frequency and body count have dropped over the past 20-plus years. Young people, he notes, are far more likely to die off school grounds — in a homicide, a fall, a firearm accident, a drowning or even while riding a bicycle — than they are in a school attack.

Researching a forthcoming book, Fox found that in the years from 1999 to 2013, homicides, bicycle accidents, firearm accidents, falls and swimming pool drownings accounted for 31,827 of the total 32,464 reported deaths. Deaths in school shootings numbered 154, or less than 0.5%. 

Put another way, a young person in the U.S. is nearly 11 times as likely to die in a swimming pool than in a school shooting. Few public officials would say pools are doing a poor job protecting swimmers, but the statistics suggest that we need “more lifeguards at pools, as opposed to guards at schools,” Fox said.

Contributing: Greg Toppo, in McLean,Va.; Associated Press

 

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