Police: Suspect, 12, planned shooting at NM middle school

ROSWELL, N.M. - There is evidence that a 12-year-old boy who opened fire Tuesday morning at a Roswell, N.M. middle school, seriously wounding two students before a teacher persuaded him to put down the gun and surrender, planned the attack, New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas said during a news conference Wednesday.

Kassetas said the evidence, which he would not detail, was discovered during an execution of search warrants in the case. He said the suspect’s locker, residence and duffle bag – in which the weapon was carried into the school – were all searched.

Authorities say the 12-year-old, whose name has not been released by authorities, used a 20-gauge pump-shotgun with the handle sawed-off and fired three rounds inside the gymnasium of Berrendo Middle School.

“One round went into the ceiling area, the second round was shot into the floor of the gymnasium and the third round was aimed into the stands at students,” Kassetas said.

He said no other firearms or ammunition has been found in the investigation.

Kassetas said there was “some indication” that the suspect warned other students in person of the impending attack before entering the gymnasium.

Authorities have determined the gun came from the suspect’s residence and that the suspect is believed to have modified the weapon by cutting off the stock.

The suspect's parents and grandparents released a statement Wednesday saying they were praying for the wounded students.

"We are horribly sad over this tragedy on so many levels. We are praying that God will be with everyone who has been affected. For all of the anguish that many suffered yesterday, our family offers our heartfelt condolences and remorse in words that we cannot fully express," the statement said.

The family said they would "cooperate in all ways" with the investigation.

Kassetas said the investigation is “somewhat wrapping up” and that authorities had already conducted 60 witness interviews.

Authorities are working with the District Attorney’s Office to determine what the 12-year-old will be charged with.

In their statement, the boy's family said they were grateful that the judge had ordered "that  our son receive an evaluation and mental health treatment." They said they "sincerely want him to receive all of the help that he needs."

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez said Wednesday that Kendal Sanders, a 13-year-old girl wounded in the shooting, was upgraded to stable condition last night and is still in recovery. Martinez said the girl is expected to remain in the hospital for at least a week.

A 12-year-old boy injured in the shooting is still listed in critical condition. Martinez said he sustained injuries to the side of his face and neck. Officials are not releasing his name at the request of his parents.

Police Chief Kassetas said the victims appear to have been targeted at random.

Officials credit John Masterson, an eighth-grade social studies teacher, with saving lives as he immediately stepped in and talked the 12-year-old suspect into dropping his weapon. Masterson then held him until authorities arrived. 

Officials also credit previous "active shooter" drills by the Roswell Independent School District for preparing teachers and students, who say they were ready for what happened Tuesday morning.

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