A 13-year-old boy charged with shooting and wounding four fellow students outside a small-town Oklahoma middle school used a 9-millimeter pistol taken from his father’s closet, investigators said Tuesday.
The semiautomatic weapon was purchased by the boy’s father at a Wal-Mart store, said police in Fort Gibson, the scene of the latest outbreak of gun violence at U.S. schools.
Wal-Mart said its records showed the gun was legally purchased in October 1993 from one of its stores in Muskogee, about 10 miles west of Fort Gibson, a town of about 3,500 people.
“We sold the gun over six years ago to the boy’s father. We followed all rules and regulations with the purchase,” said a spokeswoman for Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Wal-Mart stopped stocking handguns in its stores in 1993 and halted all catalog sales of handguns earlier this year except in Alaska, the spokeswoman said.
Investigators said the boy got the pistol and a 15-bullet clip out of a closet at home, apparently without his parents’ knowledge.
Security was tight and counselors were on hand Tuesday as students returned to the Fort Gibson Middle School. Police stood guard around the 450-pupil school, which normally has no security precautions.
The shooting Monday left three boys and a girl, ages 12 and 13, wounded but not in danger of their lives. A fifth student was injured by a bullet that ricocheted, Police Chief Richard Slader said.
The 13-year-old student walked up to other kids as they waited for the school’s opening bell and opened fire, apparently at random. After the gun’s clip emptied, a teacher held the shooter until police arrived.
Prosecution as a juvenile could lead to a sentence as harsh as incarceration until age 21 or as lenient as being returned to the custody of his parents with instructions to undergo treatment.
Counselors were on hand at all Fort Gibson schools to help students and teachers.