Tuesday morning, a shooting occurred at a middle school in Roswell, New Mexico when a 12-year-old student met with classmates in the gym before class and pulled a shotgun out of his belongings. He opened fire on students until a teacher walked up to him and asked him to put the gun down, disarming the boy shooter with only his words.
Before the teacher stepped forward, two students were shot and injured; one, a 13-year-old girl and the other an 11-year-old boy. Both underwent surgery after being flown to a nearby hospital and authorities say that the girl is in stable condition while the boy is still considered to be in critical condition. The girl has been identified as Kendal Sanders by the governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez, who reported that the girl was shot in the right arm. The name of the boy has not been released, but Martinez said he suffered injuries to his neck and the side of his face. The boy also underwent a second surgery on Tuesday night. A member of the school staff was also slightly injured, but declined any type of medical treatment so that he could stay with the students in the gym and continue to reassure them.
Martinez candidly acknowledges how much worse the shooting could have been if it hadn’t been for an eighth grade social studies teacher who walked right up to the shooter and requested that he put down the gun. John Masterson was hailed as a hero by Martinez, who went on to say that the teacher allowed the 12-year-old New Mexico boy to point the gun at him while they talked and convinced the shooter to stop hurting his fellow students by disarming himself and dropping the gun.
After the boy had relinquished the weapon, the school was put on lockdown while teachers attended to the injured students. A New Mexico state police lieutenant who had been dropping his child off at school was brought in and assisted in securing the location and shooter. Local and state police were summoned to the school at 8:11 a.m. Students were then bused to a nearby mall for parents to collect them once their police interviews were complete.
The name of the shooter has not been released, but Pete Kassetas, the State Police Chief, reports that the seventh grader had been taken into custody. A lawyer for the family reports that the boy has been transferred to a psychiatric hospital in Albuquerque. Kassetas said that they did not have a motive for the shooting as of yet, but another young student who was present for the shooting and knew the shooter said that he had been bullied. The 12-year-old shooter apparently carried the gun inside the school by concealing it in a band instrument case.
Classes at Berrendo Middle School were canceled for Tuesday and Wednesday and officials stated that counselors would be available to speak with concerned community members and students.
Masterson, the teacher who disarmed the 12-year-old New Mexico shooter, said that the entire experience was harrowing, but it is safe to say that he is being thanked in the minds and hearts of many who went through Tuesday’s frightening event.
By Marisa Corley