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State Police: Suspect used 20-gauge shotgun in Roswell shooting

Students are reunited with family following an early morning shooting at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell, New Mexico, Tuesday, January 14, 2014. (AP Mark Wilson/Roswell Daily Record)

Students are reunited with family following an early morning shooting at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell, New Mexico, Tuesday, January 14, 2014. (AP Mark Wilson/Roswell Daily Record)

— The Roswell school shootings: Complete coverage

Two children were airlifted to a Lubbock hospital after today’s school shooting at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell. Police have a 12-year-old suspect in custody: Mason Campbell, a seventh-grader at the school.

Campbell, who smuggled a 20-gauge shotgun with the wood stock sawed off into the school, warned several students not to attend school today, State Police Chief Pete Kassetas said at a news conference Tuesday night.

An 11-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl were both seriously injured in the shooting. Both were airlifted to UMC Health System in Lubbock, Texas, according to a hospital spokesperson. As of 12:45 p.m., the boy remained in critical condition. The girl’s condition was initially listed at critical, but it has been updated to satisfactory, according to the hospital.

Family members have confirmed that the girl who was shot is Kendal Sanders.

Albuquerque attorney Robert Gorence said he is representing the suspect. He said the boy’s family will be issuing a written statement Wednesday.

After a hearing today, Campbell was transferred to a psychiatric hospital in Albuquerque.

New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas said during a news conference this afternoon that the suspect walked into the school gymnasium with a shotgun hidden in a bag of some sort.

Police are serving three search warrants: for Campbell’s school locker, his Roswell-area home and the bag.

Kassetas also said officers were working with the District Attorney’s Office to determine what charges should be filed against Campbell.

He said State Police Lt. Gary Smith was dropping off his child just as the school principal was locking the front doors. After Campbell shot the boy and the girl, he pointed pointed the gun at social studies teacher John Masterson. Masterson talked Campbell into putting the gun down, and Smith took the boy into custody.

Superintendent Tom Burris said the school’s faculty members had participated in “active shooter” training, and they responded appropriately today.

“In the 10 seconds that transpired from the time of this thing starting until the teacher had control of the weapon, there was no cowardice,” Burris said. “There was protection for our kids. Everyone acted and did their duties today at Berrendo Middle School.”

Eva Gomez, Roswell Education Association president, identified eighth-grade social studies teacher John Masterson as the staff member who stopped Campbell and convinced him to put his gun down. Masterson also coaches track and soccer.

Masterson wouldn’t confirm that when contacted this afternoon, saying police had asked him not to comment on the shooting.

“It was a harrowing experience,” said Masterson, who has taught at Berrendo Middle School for 10 years. “All I can say was the staff there did a great job.”

Gov. Susana Martinez said a staff member received very minor injuries but declined medical care because he wanted to stay and help.

Gabriel Portillo, a seventh-grade student at Berrendo, said he saw a male student carrying a gun. He said that student shot a boy in the face near his eye.

Another student who witnessed the shooting said a male student shot the boy twice in the face and shot the girl in the arm.

Eighth-grader Odiee Carranza said she was walking to the school gym when a boy bumped into her as he rushed past. She told him to be careful, and he apologized and continued on. He ran to the gym, where he pulled a gun out of a band instrument case and fired at the students.

“Then he shot up in the sky, then dropped the gun, and then some teacher grabbed the kid that had the gun,” Carranza said.

Another student, Gabbie Vasquez, said she knew the suspect, but didn’t consider him violent. “He really didn’t talk to nobody. He’s quiet and kind of awkward,” Vasquez said.

Brooke Linthicum, spokeswoman for the Eastern New Mexico Medical Center, said two students were treated there and later transported. She could not provide any more details about their arrival at the hospital.

In a Facebook post this morning, Roswell police asked parents not to go to the school because it was locked down. Parents instead were able to pick up their students at a mall parking lot nearby.

Fawna Hendricks, whose son is a seventh-grader at Berrendo, said she heard about the shooting on the radio.

“Basically I jumped outta bed, threw on clothes, panicked,” Hendricks said.

Hendricks arrived at the school after it was locked down. She was sent to the parking lot of the Roswell Mall, where hundreds of parents had gathered.

Hendricks said her son’s teacher allowed him to call her. “He’s scared. Most of the kids up there are pretty scared,” she said.

Lorena Beltran heard about the shooting when her daughter, who attends the school, texted her. She said her daughter said that a male student had been shot in the face.

Sixth-grade student Anyssa Vegara said she was talking to a security guard when she heard the shot.

“I turned around, and all I saw was someone on the floor with their arm bleeding,” Vegara said.

She said the security guard ran to assist the injured student, and school officials ordered all the students to their classrooms.

Eventually, she was able to text her mother, Monica Vegara.

“From the time hearing about it, until the time she texted, it was a nightmare,” Vegara said.

William Vegara, Anyssa’s father, said it was nerve-wracking. “You never know if it was your kid or not.”

School will be back in session Thursday, according to the Roswell Independent School District superintendent.

A prayer vigil was scheduled tonight at the Roswell Convention Center.

“Please don’t forget this community is a strong community, They will pull together,” Martinez said.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.



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