Gun fired at Hawaii school, 1 student injured

Associated Press
Police detectives investigate a campus shooting at Highlands Intermediate School May 23, 2011 in Pearl City, Hawaii.  Honolulu police say a handgun brought to school by a Hawaii middle school student was fired on campus, leaving one student with minor injuries.  (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
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PEARL CITY, Hawaii (AP) — A loaded handgun brought to a Hawaii middle school by a student was fired on campus before school started Monday, narrowly missing one student and leaving another with minor injuries, police said.

The .45-caliber Glock went off after the student carrying the handgun pointed it at another student, and the second student pushed the gun away, Honolulu police Capt. Lester Hite said. The bullet ricocheted off a lava rock wall and went through the jacket of the boy who batted the weapon away. The bullet didn't touch the boy's body.

The bullet is believed to have ricocheted a second time before hitting another student's right hand and thigh. Scratches to his finger and thigh were treated with bandages, Hite said.

"When he saw the boy pull out the gun, he said, 'I'm out of here,'" Hite said. "He did exactly what we want all kids to do. He was getting away from that area when the round went off."

It was the first time on record of a gun being discharged on a public school campus in Hawaii, Department of Education spokeswoman Sandy Goya said.

Before the gun was fired, a group of students that included the boy who brought the gun were gathered at the bottom of a stairway near the campus' outdoor basketball courts. The boy had unloaded the magazine, but a bullet remained in the gun's chamber, Hite said.

"He was showing it to a friend," Hite said. "It's unclear if they were playing around."

The 14-year-old who brought the gun to Highlands Intermediate School in Pearl City was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, police said.

The gun was registered in the name of someone who has a different last name from the 14-year-old, Hite said. It was unclear how he obtained the gun.

The campus remained open while police investigated, but some nervous parents chose to pull their children out of school.

"It could've been a lot worse," said Venus Acker, the mother of a seventh-grader. "I'm good now that I have my baby."

Her daughter, 12-year-old Tiffany Acker, said she was in the cafeteria when a friend spotted an ambulance. She walked to the basketball courts where a crowd had gathered and she saw a boy with one hand wrapped.

The homeroom bell rang at 7:40 a.m., 15 minutes earlier than normal, she said. Students began calling and texting their parents.

"I was scared because I didn't know what was going to happen," she said. "I'm leaving because I don't know what's going to happen. I just want to be out of the area."

Some parents were critical of how school officials handled the incident.

"I would never have expected it to happen in Hawaii. But seeing that it did, I think they should tighten up security for the students," said Audra Walker, who took her 14-year-old daughter out of school. "The school should have been on lockdown and the parents should have been notified."

She said it's time to consider putting metal detectors in Hawaii schools.

Letters for parents about the incident were sent home with students at the end of the school day.

The letter from Vice Principal Ellen Fujino sought to assure parents that the school's response to the incident was appropriate, and children's safety is the school's top concern.

"The campus is safe and every effort is being addressed to meet the needs of the entire school community," said Sheldon Oshio, the complex area superintendent who oversees Highlands Intermediate. "Today's incident is an isolated incident."

Classes continued at the school while police tape blocked off the basketball court area.

Police later removed the tape and coned off the area of the shooting.

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AP writer Jennifer Sinco Kelleher in Honolulu contributed to this report.

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