A 15-year-old student is in “extremely critical” condition after he was shot by another 15-year-old boy in a “targeted” attack at an Arkansas junior high school Monday morning, police said.
Authorities initially said the student was dead, but Pine Bluff Police Lt. David DeFoor told NBC News that Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock had provided the department with “erroneous information.”
The shooting happened about 9:59 a.m. CST in a hallway outside the main office at Watson Chapel Junior High, police said.
“This was not random. It was targeted,” DeFoor said.
The motive was under investigation.
Gunfire erupted during a between-class break so other students were in the vicinity.
“So how many students were actually in the hallway we do not know at this time,” Chief Kelvin Sergeant told reporters. “But there were other individuals present, as they were transferring from one class to another.”
The shooter fled but was tracked by dogs about a half-hour after the shooting, DeFoor said. The boy, who was still armed, surrendered without incident.
Jefferson County Prosecutor Kyle Hunter said the decision on charges, including the determination on whether to charge the 15-year-old as an adult, would come within 48 hours.
All Watson Chapel School District campuses were placed on lockdown after the shooting, according to a Monday morning Facebook post from the district.
“If you have not been notified by the school, your student is safe and secure,” the post said.
The school followed up shortly thereafter to say parents could come pick up their children under a supervised release.
Monday was the first day back to school for the Watson Chapel School District students after a water issue in the buildings. It isn’t clear how long the students were at-home learning because of the problem.
The district had announced on Friday that students would return for on-site learning Monday. The post read: “We look forward to seeing our students and staff!!!
The superintendent of the nearby Pine Bluff and Dollarway School districts said in a statement that school officials there were taking extra precautions Monday. Counselors were on hand, the statement said.
“We are praying that God will bless our neighboring district, and our entire community, as we face the difficult days ahead,” Barbara J. Warren, the superintendent, said in the statement.