Two 17-year-old students were injured in a shooting Monday at Virginia High School and one suspect has been taken into custody, police said.
Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said a boy at Heritage High School was shot in the side of his face and a girl in her lower leg. They were taken to hospital with fatal injuries.
Drew said at least two more people were injured in the shooting and were taken to hospital. He said one person had a “sprained or broken arm” and the other had asthma. A fifth person can go straight to the hospital, he said.
The suspect is a teenager, police said. It was not immediately clear whether the attacker was a student.
Police believe there was “a kind of altercation,” Drew said. A call came in about a shootingMonday at 11:38 a.m. inside Heritage High School. Officers responded, removing the school and taking the victims to an area hospital.
Meanwhile, the FBI and state and local police are still searching the school for students or staff who have taken refuge, Drew said.The scene was “a little chaotic,” he said.
The students were evacuated and sent to a nearby tennis court, where parents were instructed to meet with them. As seen in the video shared on social media, students and adults gathered around the fence. Mental health counselors were at the scene.
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“There are a lot of people who were really hurt about this,” said George Parker, superintendent of Newport News Public Schools. “No superintendent, no teacher, no principal would ever want to go through this situation – just look at the faces of our students and how scared they were in this situation and our staff who were hurt.”
Schools regularly conduct random safety tests using dogs and metal detectors, Parker said. The schools also have school-wide shelters.
Parker said students will temporarily move toward virtual learning.
About 1,300 students attend Heritage High School, according to Newport News Public Schools. Students return to class on September 8 and were in their second full week at school. Newport News is located on the southeastern tip of the Virginia Peninsula, just north of Norfolk.
“Our prayers are with the hospitalized, their families and the entire community,” said Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. Said Monday on Twitter. “Virginia has made great strides in reducing gun violence – and we have more work to do.”
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Jolisa Malone, 33, said she received a text message from her 11-year-old on Monday morning telling him that there had been a shooting at the school and asking him to bring her. Malone said he quickly went to school and was confronted by parents and police.
“To see all these officers and no one can get into that building and I’m crying – I just wanted my child,” Malone said.
Malone said her daughter, a ninth-grader, was in her second week of high school. He was an apprentice and his grades dropped during virtual education in the Covid-1 pandemic epidemic, Malone said.
“During the epidemic I was afraid to send him (back to school).
Now, after the shooting, Malone said he plans to keep his 14-year-old child away from school for some time.
“There’s a lot going on in his head,” Malone said.
This autumn has seen several more school shootings in school buildings in the United States since learning in person. Several have temporarily returned to virtual learning.
Virginia Representative Bobby Scott Said On Twitter on Monday afternoon. “It’s a cruel tragedy that since the epidemic began, schools have only returned to the classroom for full-time instruction, and we are already fighting another task without a sense of gun violence.”