Skip to main content

2 students shot in Philadelphia high school gym

By Susan Candiotti and Greg Botelho, CNN
January 18, 2014 -- Updated 0701 GMT (1501 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Police: Student initially identified as the shooter is "cleared and released"
  • NEW: One wanted student hadn't turned himself in by late Friday as expected
  • Suspect opened fire in a Philadelphia high school gym around 3:30 p.m.
  • One male, one female student were shot in the arm, according to police

(CNN) -- A young male pulled a handgun Friday afternoon inside a Philadelphia high school gymnasium, firing and hitting two fellow students, police said.

The injured boy and girl, each 15, were transported in stable condition after being shot in the arm just before 3:30 p.m., Philadelphia police Lt. John Stanford said.

The students were among about seven in the Delaware Valley Charter High School gym at that time -- some playing basketball, others in one corner -- according to city police Commissioner Charles Ramsey.

"The suspect is part of that group," Ramsey said.

Both victims appeared to have been struck once inside the gym of Delaware Valley Charter High School, said Stanford. Ramsey said that authorities didn't know yet if they were struck by the same bullet or more than one, noting that no shell was found at the scene.

He described their wounds as non-life threatening.

The school went into lockdown as law enforcement officers cleared it and hunted for the suspect, who had left the building, according to Stanford.

The police lieutenant said students were searched and then let out of the school. He also said surveillance video had captured the incident.

A short time later, Philadelphia police tweeted they had a suspect in custody. Officer Jillian Russell, a police spokeswoman, said he was 17 years old.

Ramsey later said authorities were able to "identify him right away," after which officers were sent to his home.

"We were able to grab him," the police commissioner said. "We did not recover the gun, but we do have him in custody and he has been positively identified."

But a few hours later, Stanford said that young man was not the shooter as police initially thought, though he was at the scene. He was "completely cleared by investigators and released" later that night, the police lieutenant said.

By then, Philadelphia police had announced they were "still looking for additional suspects." This includes searching for a weapon possibly used in the shooting in trash cans, along the tracks and other spots around the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority's Olney station, SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch said.

While a gun hadn't been found by 9 p.m., Stanford said one of the two young males authorities had been looking for had turned himself in. A third male wanted by police had been expected to do the same but had not turned himself in as of 10:45 p.m., added the police spokesman.

All three youths are Delaware Valley Charter High School students. It is not clear if any of them are, in fact, the shooter. No one had been charged as of Friday night.

Asked about what might have prompted the shooting, Ramsey said, "We don't know the motives -- don't know if it was an accident, don't know if it was intentional."

Located in the Olney section of Philadelphia, Delaware Valley Charter High School is open to any student who lives in the city.

In its 2011 annual report to the state Department of Education, the school noted that it moved into its new facility in June 2006 and reported significant growth in reading and math test scores in recent years.

Friday's incident was at least the second shooting at or near a school this week.

In New Mexico on Tuesday, a 12-year-old student with a sawed off, 20-gauge pump shotgun opened fire in a crowded gymnasium at Berrendo Middle School, according to authorities. Two students were seriously injured and the shooter was in custody.

Ramsey, the Philadelphia police commissioner, acknowledged that such shootings are "happening across our country all too often, and it's just got to stop."

"(When) people send their kids to school, they shouldn't have to pick them up at the hospital," Ramsey added. "I mean, these kind of things just absolutely should not happen."

CNN's Jason Carroll, Poppy Harlow, Cristy Lenz, Haley Draznin, Kevin Conlon and Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
School shootings
June 19, 2014 -- Updated 1603 GMT (0003 HKT)
After a shooting at an Oregon high school, many media outlets, including CNN, reported that there have been 74 school shootings in the past 18 months.
September 30, 2013 -- Updated 1336 GMT (2136 HKT)
School security plans have changed to include arming teachers, adding police officers and armed security guards, and changing how schools are designed.
June 18, 2014 -- Updated 0145 GMT (0945 HKT)
Here is a list of incidents of random elementary, middle and high school (excludes colleges and universities) violence with fatalities, from 1927 to the present.
April 24, 2013 -- Updated 1702 GMT (0102 HKT)
Dr. Angela Sauaia intended to study the impact modernized playground equipment had on lowering children's injury rates. They ended up studying kids' injury rates from guns instead.
April 19, 2013 -- Updated 1412 GMT (2212 HKT)
Katie Lyles, who teaches third graders in Colorado, was a student at Columbine during the massacre 14 years ago.
May 1, 2013 -- Updated 1744 GMT (0144 HKT)
What do you do with the guns in your house? This question appears to be one that parents are asking more often before sending their kids on play dates and sleepovers.
January 15, 2014 -- Updated 0314 GMT (1114 HKT)
Opinion: Parents need to be proactive when it comes to their children's school security plans. Every parent should ask their school administrators the following questions.
September 13, 2013 -- Updated 2025 GMT (0425 HKT)
When Nelba Marquez-Greene lost her 6-year-old daughter in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, she chose to cope with her loss in a unique way: by writing a letter.
August 17, 2013 -- Updated 1316 GMT (2116 HKT)
A Maryland company that makes bulletproof whiteboards has contracted with a university seeking to offer its professors greater protection in the event of a school shooting.
July 16, 2013 -- Updated 1631 GMT (0031 HKT)
Along with math, science and social studies, gun safety could soon be part of the first-grade curriculum in some Missouri public schools.
May 2, 2013 -- Updated 1800 GMT (0200 HKT)
Some parents say recent school shootings confirm the need to protect children and teach them to defend themselves using guns.
January 30, 2013 -- Updated 2257 GMT (0657 HKT)
The Dunblane massacre, which killed 16 children and a teacher, stunned Scotland, but what did the UK do to try to prevent such a tragedy happening again?
April 12, 2013 -- Updated 1130 GMT (1930 HKT)
Opinion: The AAP says the best preventive measure against firearm injuries and deaths is not to own a gun. However, if you choose to have firearms in your home, adhere to these rules for gun safety.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1551 GMT (2351 HKT)
Federal law makes it illegal to sell or give a firearm to anyone who "has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution" but private sellers and gun shows have no background check requirement.
February 27, 2013 -- Updated 2137 GMT (0537 HKT)
Nearly three-fourths of the nation's teachers say they personally would not bring a firearm to their school if allowed.
ADVERTISEMENT