A 12-year-old boy was arrested after he allegedly shot and wounded his 13-year-old classmate at a school in Oakland, California.
The shooting erupted at about 1.30pm on Monday at Madison Park academy in East Oakland. Local police said they were able to quickly detain the alleged shooter while his victim was hospitalized in what is now described as stable condition.
As news of the shooting spread, the school became surrounded by anxious parents desperately seeking news of their children.
Oakland’s mayor, Libby Schaaf, expressed relief that the victim was recovering but dismay at the ongoing gun violence battering the city and the US as a whole. “School should be the safest place for our kids,” she wrote on Twitter. “The increased level of gun violence in our country and our city is heartbreaking and unacceptable.”
Authorities have not said whether the shooting was accidental or intentional. Either way, the case highlighted the exceptionally high rate of death and injury suffered by children in the US as a result of the country’s permissive stance on guns.
According to the gun control group Everytown, death by firearm is the leading cause of death for children and teens in America. “This is a uniquely American problem,” the group says. “Compared to other high-income countries, American children aged five to 14 are 21 times more likely to be killed with guns.”
More than 3,500 children aged up to 19 are shot and killed in the US every year, and about 15,000 are shot and injured. That is an average of around 51 a day. The personal and psychological impact goes far wider, with about 3 million children annually estimated to witness a shooting.
Of the deaths by firearm among children and teens, homicides account for by far the largest portion, at 60%. Suicides follow at 35%, and accidents account for 4%.
KTVU reported that other children were present in Madison Park Academy when Monday’s shooting happened. Students hid in classrooms and the gym, the TV channel said.
A friend of the victim described how the shooting unfolded. “I was hanging with my friends when I heard gunshot,” the student said. “I heard my friend screaming – it turns out he was the one who got shot.”
Another student, 17, told KTVU: “I was worried that was potentially my last moments in case he decided to go ballistic and go crazy.”
There were six gun deaths in Oakland in recent days. On Friday, three people were killed in a shooting in the west of the city – two by gunshot and the third a bicyclist who was run over by somebody fleeing the scene.
Oakland’s police chief, LeRonne Armstrong, lamented the high level of shootings in schools and playgrounds, saying, “This is [affecting] every area in our city. Nobody one is immune from this level from gun violence.”