Gardena H.S. Shooting Update: Two Teens Struck by Same Bullet, One is Critical Says LAPD

Police take a student into custody after he allegedly shot three people at Gardena High School Tuesday.
Police take a student into custody after shooting at Gardena High School in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Jan. 18 (CBS)

LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) Two students at Gardena High School were struck by the same bullet, when a gun in a student's backpack accidentally discharged Tuesday when he dropped the bag, Los Angeles police and school authorities said.

A 15-year-old girl was in critical condition with a head wound and a 15-year-old boy suffered a neck wound, said Deputy Chief Patrick Gannon.

The student who brought the gun apologized before running to a classroom, Gannon said.

"He said, 'I'm sorry,' when the gun went off. It made it appear to the teacher that it was an accident," Gannon said.

Officers took the youth into custody and transported him to a police station while the school 15 miles south of downtown remained locked down.

The shooting occurred in a classroom, Officer Gus Villanueva said. Principal Rudy Mendoza said students were on a break at the time.

Nelda Robledo, one of the worried parents who gathered near the school, said her 16-year-old daughter texted her that after the shooting that students were ordered to get down on the ground or hide in a corner.

Police initially reported that three people were shot and the shooter was at large.

As at many district schools in Los Angeles, Gardena High School checks incoming students with security wands at the entrance. It's unclear how the student got in with the gun in his backpack, said district spokeswoman Gayle Pollard-Terry.

"We're trying to find out if the wanding is random or if every student is wanded," she said.

Pollard-Terry said each school decides whether it needs to check students with a wand. No district school is equipped with walkthrough metal detectors, she said.

Several parents interviewed at the scene said their children described a lot of racial tension at the school.

"There's usually fights everyday, you're going to see blacks against whites and whites against blacks every single day," said Christy Westbrooks, whose 16-year-old daughter attends the school. "Spanish, whites, Samoans - they don't care what race. Every day there's a fight."

Discipline has long been a problem at Gardena, which ranks one of the district's lowest-performing high schools. Roughly 35 percent of students drop out.

Five years ago, more than 2,000 suspensions were given out, and 15 students expelled. Those figures remained high until last year when the number of suspensions dropped to 300 and expulsions to two.

Forming a discipline committee was one of the principal's goals for this year, according to the school's website. Frantic parents rushed to the school after hearing about the shooting on the news. They paced nervously as they waited behind police tapes for word from their c