The father of a 15-year-old student who police say shot another student at a Baltimore County high school on the first day of classes says his son was bullied.
The father spoke to a reporter at his home Monday evening and said his son was the shooter. The Associated Press is not identifying the teen or his family because he is a juvenile and has not been charged.
A woman who was also at the home and said she was related to the father, gave the following statement on the family's behalf: "We are horrified. We did not see this coming and our thoughts and prayers are with the victim and the victim's family."
When asked about a motive for the shooting, the father indicated his son had been bullied. He gave no further details.
A 17-year-old male student at Perry Hall High School was shot in the school's cafeteria about 10:45 a.m. He was flown to the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma unit, where he remained in critical condition Monday evening.
The suspect was arrested shortly after the shooting. Police believe he acted alone and fired randomly. The suspect is also a student at the school.
When the shooter took out a shotgun he had hidden and shot the 17-year-old, teachers and a school resource officer immediately rushed him, Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson said at a news conference Monday afternoon. The first shot may have thrown off the shooter's balance, police said, but a second shot that didn't hit anyone was fired as he was being subdued, News4's Pat Collins reported.
Jordan Coates, a 17-year-old student who was in the cafeteria at the time of the shooting, said he watched teachers, including guidance counselor Jesse Wasmer, pin the student against a vending machine.
“My back was to the door. I heard a pop and thought it was a bag because people do that, but then I heard another one,” Coates told The Associated Press. “And I turned around and a teacher had a kid pinned up against the vending machine, and I saw the barrel, and another shot goes off and people just start running.”
Coates credited Wasmer with helping to stop the shooting, and numerous students took to Twitter to thank him.
“He grabbed the gun from the kid and got him” until other teachers came over, Coates said.
“We have some heroic and brave faculty members,” Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance said. “They responded very quickly to minimize damage.”
Seth Warner, a youth pastor at the Faith Fellowship Church across from the high school who graduated in 1999 with Wasmer, said he was not surprised to hear that the guidance counselor had intervened. He described Wasmer as “not big, but built.”
“I knew that if anyone could take him down, it would be Jesse,” Warner said.
Cathy Le, 15, said students were panicking as they tried to find out what was happening. They texted and called each other frantically as they were locked in their classrooms for more than an hour, she said.
WJZ-TV showed video of a shirtless male with his hands behind his back being put into a police cruiser.
Several other students suffered what police called "minor, non-shooting injuries."
The building was evacuated after the incident. Students were being escorted to the Perry Hall Shopping Center, where parents were able to meet them.
Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger said it was too early to know what charges the shooter would face. Police said they would work with prosecutors to determine whether he would be charged as an adult.
Detectives were interviewing the suspected shooter Monday afternoon, Baltimore County police spokeswoman Elise Armacost said. Officers spent several hours searching the school and found no other weapons or suspicious materials, she said. They are trying to determine how he got the gun into the school.
Police planned to provide additional security when the school reopens with normal hours for students and staff Tuesday, and stress counselors were called in to work with students, faculty and staff.
Gov. Martin O'Malley released a statement that read in part: "Today, on this first day of school for many students in our state, we’ve suffered a senseless act of violence. I’d like to thank the teachers and administrators for their courageous and life-saving actions. At this time, our thoughts and prayers are with the injured student and his family."
Perry Hall, Md., is a middle-class community along the Interstate 95 corridor, northeast of Baltimore.
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