Reno middle-schooler shoots two classmates
March 14, 2006
RENO (AP) – A 14-year-old boy shot two fellow students at a middle school Tuesday before a gym teacher risked her life to confront the armed youth and persuade him to drop his gun, police said.
“It was an heroic job done by the school teacher,” Reno police Lt. Ron Donnelly said. “She de-escalated a very dangerous situation.”
One boy was shot in the upper arm and chest and was treated and released from Washoe Medical Center. A girl received a superficial wound to the leg from shrapnel and was treated at the scene, police said.
The alleged shooter, James Scott Newman, was arrested and police said they recovered the weapon, a .38-caliber pistol, Donnelly said.
The Reno eighth-grader was booked into the Washoe County Jail as an adult on a charge of attempted murder and being held in lieu of $150,000 bond, Donnelly said. He also was charged with use of a deadly weapon and use of a firearm by a minor.
He allegedly brought the gun to Pine Middle School with the intent of using it but apparently fired at the two victims randomly, Donnelly said. Investigators do not know how or where he obtained the gun.
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More than a dozen students and others witnessed the shooting outside the school cafeteria just before 9 a.m., police said.
Investigators were withholding the names of the victims – both eighth graders – and the teacher who intervened to persuade the shooter to drop the gun.
Steve Mulvenon, spokesman for the Washoe County School District, said the teacher had requested that her name not be released.
“She didn’t want any publicity,” he said.
Donnelly said the teacher was in a nearby room when she heard three shots fired.
“She came out into the hallway and confronted him as he was standing in the hallway holding this gun. She basically challenged him, verbally challenged, him, ‘Drop the gun, put the gun down,”‘ Donnelly told KKOH Radio in Reno.
“She empathized with him, tried to be understanding and de-escalated the situation. She was successful in having him place his gun on the ground, which is pretty amazing,” he said.
After he dropped the gun, the teacher “bear hugged” him until additional staff arrived on scene, Donnelly said.
The school was placed in lock down for about an hour before classes were canceled for the day.
“I was scared,” said Luke Riley, a student at the school.
“It was weird because we heard gunshots and there was so much chaos. I didn’t know what to expect,” he told KTVN-TV in Reno.
Students were prohibited from calling out on their cellular phones but some traded text messages with their parents. Andrew Smagala, 12, told the Reno Gazette-Journal he was unaware of the shooting until his mother sent him a text message at school.
Students were taken home either by bus or released into the custody of a parent or guardian, district officials said.
“Some people were crying,” said Jamie Coombs, who was in her math class at the time.
“They made us stay in the classroom and bolt the door and put papers up against the windows,” she told KOLO-TV.
Donnelly said the shooting appeared to be “random in nature” because the two students shot had no relationship with the suspected gunman.
“He had never been involved in any dispute or argument with them,” Donnelly said.
“It appears he decided to engage in school violence. He brought a gun to school today and randomly targeted these two students. He brought it to school today in a plan that he was going to commit violence,” he said.
School was on a delayed start because of snow and officials said not all students had arrived at the time of the incident.
– Sandra Chereb contributed to this story.