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UPDATE: 13-year-old charged in shooting of classmate at middle school

Associate schools Superintendent John Bryant talks with the press while Hendersonville Police Chief Bill Hollingshed looks on. Associate schools Superintendent John Bryant talks with the press while Hendersonville Police Chief Bill Hollingshed looks on.

A 13-year-old boy detained in connection with the shooting of a classmate on Tuesday morning was charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon and bringing a weapon into Hendersonville Middle School, Hendersonville police said around 5:30 p.m.


A school administrator quickly detained the boy after he allegedly shot his classmate in the leg in a gym where around 35  students were congregated at 7:45 a.m. The girl, also 12, was transported to Mission HCA for treatment. The shooter was in custody of investigators at the Hendersonville police station, Police Chief Bill Hollingshed said in a news conference outside the school at 11:30 Tuesday morning, before being charged several hours later.

All students were removed safely from the campus by 11:30 a.m. The victim was listed in stable condition at Mission HCA in Asheville, Hollingshed said. The hospital confirmed that the girl was OK.

"Our patient from the event at Hendersonville Middle School is in good, stable condition and resting comfortably," Mission spokeswoman Nancy Lindell said. "Her family requests privacy at this time."

Hollingshed praised the quick reaction of Hendersonville Middle School personnel.

"As soon as the incident occurred they had administrators on the scene very very quickly," he said. "They were able to secure the firearm and the individual involved. Our SRO and about four other officers were here within the first minute."

Associate Schools Superintendent John Bryant also praised law officers and school employees for their response "on the type of day that you simply do not want to have to prepare for."

"We had a staff that responded immediately, students who responded responsibly and immediately and law enforcement partners that knew how to immediately support that work," he said.

Hollingshed would not identify the type of weapon the boy fired but confirmed — in spite of social media rumors that "it wasn't a real firearm" — that it was a gun capable of mortally wounding someone. Around 35 people were inside the gym at the time of the incident, the chief said.

When the shooting happened, administrators alerted school personnel and parents of an immediate code red lockdown, Bryant said. The school ratcheted down to a code yellow once the 12-year-old shooter was taken into custody and the weapon seized. Investigators "are going through witness statements and every single student and faculty member that was inside that gym as well as others to determine just what the intent was of that student," Hollingshed said. Law officers have looked at social media of the students to try to ascertain a motive.

HMS does not have metal detectors. It does have security cameras in some areas, Bryant said, although "ultimately we recognize that the most significant security we can put into place is our personal vigilance, the adults who are present in the space, students who are observing what's taking place, reporting concerns to adults and staff members being where they need to be."

"We want out schools to be safe places," he added when asked about metal detectors. "We'll evaluate all our protocols."

Charges that the 12-year-old in custody would face depends on "what led up to the shooting, what the motive was, whether it was intentional, all that type of thing," Hollingshed said before those charges were brought later in the day. Investigators are looking at how the boy got to school, how the weapon was concealed and other details. After being charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury, and bringing the gun onto campus, the boy was released into the custody of juvenile services, the city said in the news release.

Bryant emphasized that the school system was prepared to counsel anyone in need of support.

"Anytime you go through a crisis situation, you want to recognize that we all process that differently, so it's critical that everybody understand that we're able to support our students and our school community as they respond to that."

Although schools are now out for Thanksgiving until Monday, students and families can get help by using "an anonymous reporting system that allows them to reach out directly to  school administrative staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week anytime that a child has a need or response," Bryant said. "Even though we're closed for the holidays, we make ourselves available to our students in such a way that we might be able to provide care for them if that need arises."


Police and the school administrators confirmed the shooting in a statement they issued at 10 a.m.

At about 7:45 a.m. "the Hendersonville Police Department responded to an incident involving a firearm on the campus of Hendersonville Middle School," they said in a joint news release. "A student discharged a firearm on campus, wounding another student. The juvenile suspect was immediately detained by a school administrator."

"Henderson County Public School administrators immediately initiated a Code Red lockdown to secure the school campus, which was quickly downgraded to a Code Yellow once the student suspect was detained and the scene was secured.  The 12-year-old student who was struck in the leg was transported by ambulance to Mission Hospital. The firearm and the student suspect are in the custody of the Hendersonville Police Department and the investigation is continuing. 

"The school will begin dismissal of students while remaining under a preventive lockdown. Buses will dismiss at 10:15 a.m. and car riders will dismiss at 10:30 a.m. School families are being contacted by their administrators with specific procedures."

"We want to highlight the swift response provided by school administrators, the HMS School Resource Officer, local law enforcement and first responders who quickly secured the scene," the statement said.