Crime & Justice

Girl wounded in Gardena High School shooting wakes up

People walk past the entrance to Gardena High School in Gardena, California January 18, 2011 after two students were shot, one in the head, when a gun went off accidentally in a classroom.
People walk past the entrance to Gardena High School in Gardena, California January 18, 2011 after two students were shot, one in the head, when a gun went off accidentally in a classroom.
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Doctors at UCLA Medical Center say the 15-year-old girl who was shot yesterday at Gardena High School has opened her eyes but remains in critical condition.

Dr. Gail Anderson says the girl is still intubated but showing promising signs. "She does respond to command or directions and is able to move both sides of her body, but one better than the other right now. The left side seems to be better than the right at this point. Again, it’s too early to tell what sort of results we’re going to have over the next two hours or the next few days.”

A 15-year-old boy was also shot. Anderson says he could be released in the next day or so after his condition was upgraded this morning from “fair” to “good.”

The two were shot yesterday when another student put his backpack on a desk – the gun was inside the bag. That student is 17 and in custody.

Incoming superintendent John Deasy says the school had not been conducting enough security checks of students with metal detecting wands. He says there were more this morning.

More from the Associated Press:

A doctor says a 15-year-old girl wounded in the head in a shooting at a Los Angeles high school has awakened.

Dr. Gail Anderson Jr. says the girl woke up Wednesday at Harbor UCLA Medical Center but is still intubated so it is not yet known if she can speak and she remains in critical condition.

Authorities say the girl and a 15-year-old boy were wounded Tuesday when a gun brought to Gardena High School in another student's backpack discharged in a classroom.

Anderson says the girl responds to commands and is able to move both sides of her body, but her left side is better than the right.

The doctor says the boy, who was wounded in the neck, is in good condition.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Personnel at a high school where a gun went off in a student's backpack and wounded two classmates failed to use a metal-detector to check youngsters as required, the incoming head of the Los Angeles Unified School District said Wednesday.

Gardena High School was supposed to perform random checks of students with the use of a hand-held security wand each day, but none was done on Tuesday, said assistant superintendent John Deasy, who is scheduled to begin leading the nation's second-largest school district when Ramon Cortines retires in April.

"I'm disturbed and angry at that" and disciplinary action will be taken that potentially could involve firing some officials, Deasy told The Associated Press. "I'm a dad so I am very disturbed."

The entire district security policy also will be reviewed, he said.

At the school, security guards were in place on and near campus Wednesday. Security checks were being made, and crisis counselors were available, officials said.

A 17-year-old student was arrested on campus Tuesday after a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol was brought to class in a backpack. It fired when he dropped the pack on his desk, wounding two 15-year-olds, police said.

A girl whose skull was fractured by a bullet remained hospitalized in critical condition following surgery, Deasy said.

A boy who was shot in the neck had his condition upgraded from fair to good, KTLA-TV reported.

School district policy, which has been in place for years, requires high schools to conduct random wand checks for weapons and contraband.

Deasy said he reviewed Gardena High School procedures after the shooting.

"That didn't occur" on Tuesday and perhaps on other days, although the school's daily logs have not yet been thoroughly reviewed, Deasy said.

"We don't know yet. But I think it's at least fair to say from the level of review at this moment that it was sporadic," he said.

It was not clear if a check would have kept the gun off the gated campus, a massive property with 2,400 students.

"We do not know that this individual student would or would not have been caught because we're still trying to determine how and where he entered campus," Deasy said.

The 10th-grader was in custody at a juvenile detention center after police interviewed him and his mother, said city police Capt. Bill Hayes. The boy expressed remorse, and his mother was concerned about the two victims.

The teenager was on probation for a fight at school last year, Hayes said. He could be charged with assault with a deadly weapon, he said.

The shooting occurred in a classroom at the school, where Principal Rudy Mendoza said students were on a break at the time. The campus, about 15 miles south of downtown, was locked down after the incident.

Shedric Porter, 14, said he was walking past the classroom at the time.

"I didn't see anything, but I heard the shot, and it was really loud," he said. "I stopped. I was scared. Then I thought it was just a book or something hitting the ground, but it was too loud for that."

The current district policy recognizes that security measures can't catch every student committing a crime in the sprawling district, but the procedures have found guns and contraband, Deasy said.

However, officials will look at the policy to see if changes should be made. One issue that may be discussed is whether some schools should have permanent metal detectors at entrances, a costly measure that some other districts have adopted.

Also under review will be the system that provides parents with phone calls or e-mails in emergencies. Some parents complained that they did not receive the messages immediately after the shooting.

"Parents received notification. But was it timely?" Deasy said. "I want to make it more quick in a situation like this."

Two students were shot at the school in February 2002, when three assailants tried to hold up them in an outdoor area. In the past five years, two students have been expelled for firearms violations.

The school ranks among the district's lowest-performing high schools, with roughly 35 percent of its students dropping out.

© 2011 The Associated Press.