UPDATE: A 15-year-old student was shot this morning at Watson Chapel Junior High in Pine Bluff, KATV reports.
However, late this afternoon, the Pine Bluff Police Department said it had erroneously confirmed the child’s death. He is still alive, in serious condition at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
A 15-year-old classmate is in custody.
Students were changing classes this morning when the shooting occurred in the hallway at Watson Chapel Junior High in Pine Bluff. The victim, a male, was airlifted to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in serious condition. His death was first reported about 3 p.m. by multiple media outlets.
Then later the police distributed this message:
Bad information was released. The hospital will keep us updated directly to prevent further erroneous.
The suspect was found near the school with help of a dog team from the Department of Correction. NBC has more details here. The suspect was still armed when he was found.
Pine Bluff Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant gave a brief update on the shooting. He said it was not a random shooting, but appeared to be a case where the shooter targeted the victim. When the shooting occurred, school officials told parents that it was an isolated incident. Parents were allowed to pick up their children early.
The call for help came in at 9:59 a.m., and the first officer arrived on the scene at 10:02 a.m. Students gathered in the school gym as law enforcement made sure the school was clear of danger.
No word on what kind of firearm the child used, or where he or she got it. No identities have been released.
The governor issued a statement:
“My heart broke when I learned that the victim of this shooting had died,” Governor Hutchinson said today. “This terrible act of violence has deprived a young man of his future and his parents of their dreams for their son. We must redouble our efforts to ensure that our children are safe at school. I encourage you to comfort your children in the coming days as we try to make sense of this.”
He retracted that statement after learning of the Pine Bluff police correction.
“We have been informed that the 15-year-old has not died and is in serious condition. Our prayers remain with the family.”
More safety everywhere through common-sense gun laws would be worth considering, too. The governor could veto stand-your-ground legislation, for example.