Pennsylvania high school student injured in campus shooting; suspect on the loose
A student at Erie High School in Pennsylvania was injured in a rare on-campus shooting Tuesday, authorities said, and a suspect remains at large.
The victim was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries and stabilized, police said at an afternoon news conference. Detectives believe they have identified the shooter, a minor under the age of 15 whose name has not been released, and officers were trying to locate the person.
“We have identified a suspect and have consulted with the district attorney’s office — and the Erie school district,” Erie Deputy Police Chief Michael Nolan said at the press conference.
Nolan said investigators are in contact with the suspect’s family, who are still at large. The shooter and victim know each other, and the attack was not random, Nolan said.
The police did not release the minor’s name. Nolan only said, “We cannot release any additional information at this time.”
Erie County District Attorney Elizabeth Hirz told the press conference that the suspect was under 15 and would therefore be treated as a minor if prosecuted.
Police were dispatched to reports of gunfire in a hallway at Erie High School around 9:22 a.m., Nolan said. Detectives believe the shooter used a 9mm firearm and multiple shots were fired, he said.
Police and school officials said gunfire erupted while the school was in session. “There were other students around,” Nolan said.
Erie Schools Superintendent Brian Polito said the campus has never had metal detectors, but students who are late to class are checked with a metal detector wand. Students can also be randomly selected to be checked for weapons with a wand, Polito said.
School is closed until the end of the week and students will be away for spring break next week.
Counselors will be available for students at a nearby arts center, the district said.
“We are devastated and angered by this senseless tragedy,” Polito said in a statement. “We hope for the full and speedy recovery of the student involved.”
The district said in a statement more than two hours after announcing the shooting that the building was secure and there were no active threats.
In an earlier Facebook statement, Erie Public Schools urged people to “STAY AWAY FROM THE AREA UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.”
The district added that it is working to coordinate parent pickups. Buses were also available to take the children home.
“The evacuation by orderly removal will begin as soon as the district is cleared to do so by the Erie Police Department,” the school system later said.
Mayor Joe Schamberr said the shooting was “very saddening”.
“Schools should be safe places where children learn and grow,” he wrote in a statement. “I know this is hard for parents to hear. But remember: all students are now safe!”
Erie Education Association president Mary Theuerkauf chastised the school district for not having safety measures in place.
“For years, we have required the administration of the City of Erie School District and school principals to confront the multitude of security threats our staff have presented to them. Each time, we are told ‘it will take time, we are working on it'”, she wrote in a press release, according to Erie News Now.
“No bureaucracy is worth a human life. We will not sit idly by another day until the safety of our students and staff is properly addressed,” she said.
Denis Romero contributed.