BROWNSVILLE, Texas - Police say the weapon a Texas eighth-grader pointed at officers in a school hallway before they killed him was a pellet gun that looked like a real handgun.
Interim Brownsville Police Chief Orlando Rodriguez says 15-year-old Jaime Gonzalez had "plenty of opportunities" to lower the weapon but "didn't want to."
Rodriguez says two officers fired three shots and struck Gonzalez at least twice.
Police are awaiting the results of an autopsy.
Rodriguez says that before the confrontation with police, Gonzalez walked into a Cummings Middle School classroom and punched another boy in the nose. He says he doesn't know why Gonzalez brandished the weapon but that the initial call to police said a student had a gun.
Brownsville school district officials said administrators immediately called police after Gonzalez brandished a weapon about 8 a.m., shortly after classes started at Cummings Middle School. When police arrived, the student "engaged" the officers and was shot, district spokeswoman Drue Brown said in an emailed statement.
Cameron County Justice of the Peace Kip V. Johnson Hodge pronounced the student dead at a hospital and has ordered an autopsy, said court coordinator Israel Tapia.
The school, with an enrollment of about 750 students, was placed on lockdown when administrators called police and no one else was injured, Brown said.
A seventh grade student who said he was two classrooms from where the shooting took place said the school was already on lockdown when he heard three shots. Miguel Grimaldo, 12, said students later followed police out of the building and boarded buses that took them to a neighboring park, where his mother picked him up late Wednesday morning.
"For now they're not saying anything, just pick up your kids," said the boy's mother, Maria Grimaldo.
The street in front of Cummings was lined with police cars and blocked off. About two hours after the shooting, dozens of frustrated parents and relatives flooded out of the park pavilion without their children after school officials announced that all remaining children had been bused to a high school and could be picked up there.
Daniel Lozano, the father of a 14-year-old eighth-grader, told CBS affiliate KENS that he and his wife closed up their small grocery and rushed to the school to find information. He expressed alarm that someone had been able to get a gun into the middle school.
"This is really messed up," Lozano said. "I thought they had more security."
The lockdown was lifted about two hours after the shooting, but the students and employees were relocated while officers investigated at the school, Brown said.
Brownsville is 280 miles south of San Antonio on the southern tip of Texas.