BIRMINGHAM, Ala. >> A 17-year-old girl died and a 17-year-old boy was injured today in what authorities believe was an accidental shooting at an Alabama high school today.
Birmingham Interim Police Chief Orlando Wilson said his department is seeking to determine the circumstances of the shooting shortly before 3:30 p.m. at Huffman High School, adding investigators had already begun seeking out witnesses and would examine school surveillance video.
“At this particular time, we are considering this accidental,” the police chief said at a news conference. “Right now we have a lot of unanswered questions.”
The shooting prompted a brief lockdown at the school in Alabama’s largest city but students were then released and authorities said they had determined that the shooting was not perpetrated by “someone from the outside” who entered the school. Wilson declined to say who fired the gun or to identify what firearm was retrieved by authorities. No arrests were immediately reported.
He did confirm metal detectors were in place and functioning in the school.
“We are asking questions from the staff, the students, anyone who was in that area,” Wilson said of the investigation. “This should not happen in schools.”
He said police have already questioned students but declined to say how many. No arrests have been made.
Birmingham City School system officials said in a statement that the shooting prompted a brief lockdown and added two students were involved in the shooting at dismissal time.
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said the deceased student would have turned 18 in about 30 days and was a senior “who had aspirations and dreams to be a nurse.”
“We are not just talking about some person, (we’re) talking about losing a part of our future. Our hearts are heavy,” Woodfin said.
Birmingham City Schools Superintendent Lisa Herring said her goal was to support the family of the child who died and reassure parents about the safety of their children. She confirmed the city’s schools would be open Thursday.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey released a statement this evening that she was saddened by the student’s death. ”I am praying for the family of this young lady who has tragically lost her life way too early. Every life is precious and, even though this was an accident, it reaffirms that there is no place for students to have firearms or other weapons on campus.”