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April 17, 2021

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Boy, 15, injured in Arkansas school shooting; classmate held

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PINE BLUFF, Ark. — A 15-year-old boy shot and seriously injured a fellow student Monday morning at an Arkansas junior high school, and the suspect was detained in a juvenile detention facility, authorities said.

The shooting happened in a hallway at Watson Chapel Junior High School as students were switching classes at about 10 a.m., Pine Bluff Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant said. The school is in the city of Pine Bluff, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) southeast of Little Rock.

The school went on lockdown after the shooting. The shooter ran away but was found in a nearby neighborhood by a tracking dog, Sergeant said.

The wounded boy, who was also 15, was airlifted to a Little Rock hospital where he was “in very serious condition,” Sergeant said. His name was not released.

At one point, there was confusion about the boy’s condition as a police spokesman reported that he had died. Lt. David DeFoor, Pine Bluff’s police spokesman, later retracted that statement and confirmed the boy was still alive. In the subsequent statement, DeFoor said “bad information was released.”

The suspect was taken to a juvenile detention center and prosecutors have not yet decided whether charges will be filed in juvenile or adult court, officials said. His name was not released because of his age.

“We don’t have a definite motive right now as to why the incident occurred,” Sergeant said. “However we do believe this was a targeted incident as opposed to a random incident.”

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who had earlier issued a statement mourning the erroneous death report, issued a follow-up statement noting that the boy was alive but in serious condition. “Our prayers remain with the family,” he said.

Monday was scheduled to be Watson Chapel’s first day back for on-site learning in several weeks after winter weather and water issues closed the facility.

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