2 Hurt in New Orleans School Shooting

ByAlan Clendenning

N E W  O R L E A N S, Sept. 26, 2000 -- Two teen-age boys shot and wounded each otherwith the same gun during a fight at their middle school todayafter a 13-year-old expelled student slipped the weapon to one ofthem through a fence, authorities said.

The wounded boys, ages 13 and 15, are in critical condition.

Witnesses said the eighth-graders had argued before theshootings at Carter G. Woodson Middle School, where students must pass through a metaldetector to enter. The younger boy got the gun from outside thechain-link fence and shot the 15-year-old, only to have the olderboy grab the gun and shoot him, police Lt. Marlon Defillo said.

The younger boy will be charged with attempted murder, Defillosaid.

The boy accused of providing the handgun wasarrested about five hours after the shooting at his home in anearby housing project, part of an economically mixed neighborhoodnot far from St. Charles Avenue's elegant antebellum mansions. This boy, who was recently expelled for fighting, was booked oncharges of illegally carrying a weapon and being a principal toattempted first-degree murder, Defillo said. He faces a detentionhearing Wednesday.

Concerned ParentsThe shooting happened just before noon in a breezeway betweenthe main building at Carter G. Woodson Middle School and thecafeteria, where hundreds of students were eating lunch. Policerecovered the .38-caliber revolver.

Mike Smith, a 14-year-old seventh-grader, said he heard theshots, and “everybody started running.” He added that teachersmade the students stay inside classrooms until it was safe.

More than 100 parents hurried to the school and lined up outsideas officials let small groups enter the building to get theirchildren. One parent said recent violence at the school had madeher daughter fearful.

“She was afraid to come to school two weeks ago because boyswere fighting,” Beronica Lewis said as she hugged her daughterNeshetta, 14, outside the building. “I told her she’d be allright. Now I’m just afraid for my child.”

The school is among modest pastel-colored houses in New Orleans’uptown area, a racially and economically diverse part of town.

“I want my little boy out of this school,” DanetteWeatherspoon said as she waited to take her 12-year-old son,Darrell, home. “They need more security guards here.”

Shooting Powder Keg?There had been several fights reported at the school in the pastfew weeks, but it was unclear whether the shooting was related tothose disputes, said David Bowser, a police spokesman.

Police Chief Richard Pennington said investigators were checkinginto parents’ claims that there has been a gang turf battleinvolving students at the schools.

“We don’t think this is gang-related. We think it was twochildren involved in a fight and a third person came and gave agun,” he said.

School Superintendent Alphonse Davis said classes will becanceled for three days but the school will remain open forstudents who want to talk to counselors.

When classes resume next week, two or three police officers willbe assigned to the school, in addition to the 10 usually in theneighborhood, police said.

“This horrifying event brings too close to home the widespreadproliferation of gun violence and underscores our fighting beliefthat handgun are too easily available to children,” Mayor MarcMorial said.

In 1998, New Orleans was one of the first cities to suegunmakers to recover the cost of gun violence and accidentalshootings involving children. About 25 other municipalities havefiled similar lawsuits.