Doctors say a 15-year-old boy is in fair condition after being shot in the neck at a high school, and a female student suffered a skull fracture, bruising to the brain and a significant blood clot.
Neurosurgeon Dr James Ausman says the 15-year-old girl was unconscious when she arrived at Los Angeles County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and went into surgery within 30 minutes to remove the clot.
She is in critical condition and remains sedated. Her family is by her side.
Deputy Police Chief Patrick Gannon says both victims were hit by one bullet that was fired when a gun in a backpack went off when it was dropped at Gardena High School.
The 17-year-old student who brought the gun is being questioned by police.
“He said, ‘I’m sorry,’ when the gun went off. It made it appear to the teacher that it was an accident,” Gannon said.
Gardena High School Principal Rudy Mendoza said the student dropped the bag as he walked between classes at midmorning.
Nelda Robledo, one of the worried parents who gathered near the school, said her 16-year-old daughter texted her that after the shooting students were ordered to get down on the ground or hide in a corner.
As at many district schools, Gardena High School checks incoming students with security wands at the entrance. It’s unclear how the student got in with the gun in his backpack, said district spokeswoman Gayle Pollard-Terry.
“We’re trying to find out if the wanding is random or if every student is wanded,” she said.
Pollard-Terry said each school decides whether it needs to check students with a wand. No district school is equipped with walkthrough metal detectors, she said.
Frantic parents rushed to the school after hearing about the shooting on the news. They paced nervously as they waited behind police tapes for word from their children.
“I’ve never heard of anything like this before,” said Thomas Hill, whose 16-year-old and 18-year-old children attend the school. “You’re going to have confrontations between kids but never this.”
A mother who was waiting to hear from her 14-year-old son, Michael, said the school has a reputation for gang violence. Lupe Contreras said she has been trying to get her son out of the school.
Cynthia Cano, 15, said she was in a Mexican-American social studies class when an announcement was made that the school was in lockdown.
“We heard someone got shot. Everyone was freaking out a little,” she said in a telephone interview from inside the campus.