By Alex Dobuzinskis
(Reuters) – A shooter opened fire at a middle school in New Mexico on Tuesday, seriously wounding at least two teenage students before being taken into custody, police and hospital officials said.
“The shooter has been apprehended,” police in Roswell, New Mexico, said in a statement, without giving any further details on the incident or the suspected gunman.
The two injured students from Berrendo Middle School – which was placed on lockdown after the shooting – were taken to a local hospital, where they were stabilized before being transferred to another facility, said Brooke Linthicum, a hospital spokeswoman.
The students, a 14-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl, were taken by helicopter to the University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas, because it has a Level 1 trauma center, said Eric Finley, a spokesman for the center.
Lubbock is 154 miles east of Roswell.
The incident was the second at a middle school in three months. In October, a 12-year-old boy opened fire with a handgun at his middle school in Sparks, Nevada, killing a teacher and wounding two other students before shooting himself to death.
It comes amid a national debate on gun control, after a gunman shot to death 20 students and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut in December, 2012. Following that attack, President Barack Obama called for sweeping new gun control measures.
Most of Obama’s proposals were defeated in Congress, but his administration proposed new regulations this month aimed at clarifying restrictions on gun ownership for the mentally ill and bolstering a database used for background checks on buyers of firearms.
A recorded voice message on Berrendo Middle School’s phone instructed parents to pick up their children at a nearby location.
Kathy Sigala, a parent, told Roswell television station KOBR, an NBC affiliate, that she was made aware of the shooting by a phone call from an office colleague.
“It was scary, it was freaky,” Sigala told the station. “We just can’t believe that it would happen here.”
A dispatcher with the Roswell police said the initial report came from the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office.
An official there declined to comment.
Group gathered as students continue to be bussed to The Roswell Mall. http://t.co/o4v267dttC
— KRQE News 13 (@krqe) January 14, 2014
New Mexico State Police plan to hold a news conference at 1 p.m. local time.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, Laila Kearney in San Francisco and Karen Brooks in Austin, Texas; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Bernadette Baum)