A teen-ager opened fire in a high school hallway Friday as other students were returning from a pep rally, wounding six, authorities said. One other student was trampled in the panic.
Witnesses said the 17-year-old, who was new to Palo Duro High School, pulled a gun after he got into a fight with another student.
Police said Randy Earl Matthews was taken into custody for questioning, and a 15-year-old who fled the scene with him was also arrested.
Two of the wounded students were reported in serious condition and four were in satisfactory condition, a spokesman at Northwest Hospital said. The trampled student was treated and released.
School officials said the students were returning to classes from the pep rally Friday morning when the shooting began. School remained in session for the day, but several hundred students went home early, said John Williams, of the Amarillo Independent School District.
Some students said the shooting was gang-related, but Williams dismissed that as speculation. Police declined to comment.
“It was a gang thing,” said one Palo Duro junior who refused to give his name. “Me and my boys was looking for him to fight. When we found him, my friend punched him in the face. He ducked down and came up with a gun and started firing.”
Heather Fisher, a friend of wounded student Delmond Carruthers, said she watched Carruthers punch Matthews in the face, then saw the shooter hunch over, pull out a gun and fire a shot.
“I said it was a cap gun and to hit him again,” she said. “Then he fired another shot into Delmond’s arm and I saw the blood.”
She said Matthews ran through the hallway firing shots to clear his way.
Carruthers, 18, was listed in serious condition with .22-caliber bullet wounds to the chest, shoulder and leg. Another wounded student, Donyel Austin, 15, also was in serious condition.
Student Ryan Long complained that security needs to be improved at the school, which is located in a blue-collar neighborhood on the city’s northeast side. Amarillo is about 450 miles northwest of Dallas.
“It makes you nervous to come back to school on Monday,” he said. “They need to beef up security, put metal detectors in and have more searches.”
Williams said that a hand-held metal detector had been ordered for the school about a month ago.