ATLANTA (AP) — Two groups of students were apparently arguing before a 15-year-old opened fire on a classmate at an Atlanta middle school, and investigators believe the shooting was gang-related, police said Friday.
The suspect has been charged with aggravated assault and firearms counts, though it will be up to prosecutors to decide if he is charged as an adult, Atlanta Police Chief George Turner said during a news conference.
Police have not named the suspect or the 14-year-old who was shot because they are juveniles, and to protect both of them from retaliation.
While police believe the shooting is gang-related, they have not confirmed whether the boy who was shot and wounded is a gang member or if he was even the intended target.
The 14-year-old athlete is doing well despite being shot in the back of neck and is looking forward to watching Sunday's Super Bowl, Mayor Kasim Reed said.
A relative of the boy representing the family told WSB-TV the boy had no gang ties. Efforts by The Associated Press to reach the family on Friday were unsuccessful.
It is not known how the suspect obtained the gun or got it onto campus, Turner said. An off-duty police officer was working as a school resource officer when the teen was shot and arrested the suspect.
Officials said the school does have metal detectors, though they are investigating whether the devices were working at the time of the shooting, which happened in a school courtyard.
"I think this incident is an important reminder that we have to constantly focus on the safety of our schools," Reed said, adding that he and Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis are reviewing whether there are enough school resource officers.
The shooting came amid fierce debate about gun control and school safety in the U.S. Since 20 children and six adults were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in December, calls for armed officers in every school have resonated across the country.
Reed said he'd also like to link the city's schools with a network of roughly 700 video cameras around the city that can be monitored remotely. Linking the schools is doable and affordable, he said.