A 12-year-old boy was arrested after allegedly shooting and injuring his 13-year-old classmate at a school in Oakland, California.
The shooting broke out at about 1:30 p.m. Monday at Madison Park Academy in East Oakland. Local police said they were able to quickly apprehend the alleged gunman while his victim was hospitalized in what is now described as stable condition.
As news of the shooting spread, the school was surrounded by concerned parents desperate for news about their children.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf expressed relief that the victim was recovering but was stunned at the ongoing gun violence plaguing the city and the US as a whole. “School should be the safest place for our kids,” she wrote on Twitter. “The increased gun violence in our country and our city is heartbreaking and unacceptable.”
Authorities have not said whether the shooting was accidental or intentional. Regardless, the case highlighted the exceptionally high number of deaths and injuries among children in the US as a result of the country’s lenient stance on weapons.
According to the gun control group Everytown, death from firearms is the leading cause of death for children and teenagers in America. “This is a uniquely American problem,” the group says. “Compared to other high-income countries, American children ages five to 14 are 21 times more likely to be killed with guns.”
Each year, more than 3,500 children under the age of 19 are shot and about 15,000 are shot and injured in the US. That is an average of about 51 per day. The personal and psychological impact goes much further: it is estimated that approximately 3 million children witness a shooting every year.
Of the firearms deaths among children and teenagers, murders make up by far the largest part, at 60%. Suicides follow at 35% and accidents account for 4%.
KTVU reported that other children were present at the Madison Park Academy when the shooting happened Monday. Students hid in classrooms and the gym, the TV station said.
A friend of the victim described how the shooting went. “I was hanging out with my friends when I heard gunshots,” the student said. “I heard my friend scream – it turned out he was the one who got shot.”
Another student, 17, told KTVU, “I was worried that these might be my last moments in case he decides to go ballistic and go crazy.”
There have been 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 gunfire and the third a cyclist who was run over by someone who was fleeing.
Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong lamented the high rate of shootings at schools and playgrounds, saying: “This is [affecting] every area in our city. No one is immune to this level of gun violence.”