ROSWELL, N.M. — At least two children were in critical condition after a shooting at a Roswell middle school on Tuesday morning. The shooter was taken into custody as hundreds of parents converged on a mall parking lot to console their children and take them home.
Two minors were being flown to Lubbock, Texas, in critical condition, said University Medical Center Health System spokesman Eric Finley; a 14-year-old boy was being taken by helicopter and a 13-year-old girl by plane.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the minors were the same pair taken to a hospital in Roswell by ambulance after the shooting.
Hundreds of parents congregated at the Roswell mall Tuesday to meet their children, who were bused from Berrendo Middle School, where the shooting happened.
David Fox said his 12-year-old son, Spencer, called him from the school to say he had heard three gunshots and that they were apparently fired by a fellow student with a sawed-off shotgun.
Ynez Fox, who works at a nearby hospital, said she saw police cars and ambulances rushing to the school just before 8 a.m.
“I couldn’t breathe,” she said. “I feared the worst.”
Then her son called from an unfamiliar cellphone number.
“Mom, there’s been a shooting at school,” he said, “but I’m OK.” His voice was calm, almost without emotion, and she assumed it was because he was in shock.
“It wasn’t even his phone,” Fox said of her son. “He doesn’t even have a cellphone. But he’s going to get one now.”
A man walked by, overhearing her words. “My son is going to take his cellphone to school from now on, you can bet your bottom dollar.”
The parents were directed to wait at different mall entrances for their children, who had been bused to the site. The sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders emerged one-by-one from different mall doors as the parents’ names were called out to reunite with their child.
Justin Dollar, 13, walked away from the mall trailed by his father, who kept a hand on his shoulder. He said he was in a different part of the building from where the shooting happened when an announcement went over the loudspeakers.
“The voice said that the school was under lockdown and for all of us to get to the nearest classroom and to text or call your parents and tell them that you’re OK,” Justin said.
Nearby, Jonathan Flores hugged his mother and talked about the shooting.
“This kid shot another kid with a shotgun in the school gym,” he said. “Nobody knows why, ” said the youth, who wore a blue Berrendo Middle School sweat shirt with the bulldog mascot.
Asked when he would returned to school, he said, “I feel scared.”
A woman in a powder blue pant suit was waiting at the parking lot for her 14-year-old son. The woman, who asked not be identified, said her son called her about 7:50 a.m. from a locked room in the school office. She was told that teachers and fellow students were inside.
All were safe, she said.
According to the boy, a person with a shotgun was in the school and was tackled and caught, his mother said.
State police were expected to hold a news conference about the shooting in the early afternoon.
First image we’re seeing-- #roswell mall packed with parents waiting to pick up kids after shooting at Berrendo MS pic.twitter.com/w9xPAlYwXb— Kim Tobin (@kimtobinkob) January 14, 2014
Google Street View of Berrendo Middle School scene of a school shooting; suspect in custody students reported injured pic.twitter.com/fbkstvYvdm— scejas (@scejas) January 14, 2014
PICTURE: Parents, families visibly upset at #Roswell Mall, waiting to pick up kids #Berrendo #schoolshooting @krqe pic.twitter.com/BnX85oy0ye— Katie Kim (@katiemkim) January 14, 2014
[For the record: 12:05 p.m. PST Jan 14: An earlier version of this post said that it wasn’t immediately clear whether the minors were the same pair taken to a hospital in Lubbock by ambulance after the shooting. It should have said Roswell, not Lubbock.]
Glionna reported from Roswell and Muskal from Los Angeles.
Times staff writers Cindy Carcamo in Smith Lake, N.M., and Matt Pearce in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
ngeles contributed to this report.