Eighth-grader wounded at S. Calif. junior high school; another student taken into custody

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AP Photo CAVEN102, CAVEN101, CAVEN103

By JEFF WILSON

Associated Press Writer

OXNARD, Calif. (AP) -- A 15-year-old boy was shot and wounded in a junior high school computer lab Tuesday and another eighth-grader was taken into custody, authorities said.

Worried parents gathered outside the 1,150-student E.O. Green Junior High School, which was locked down. Students were released classroom by classroom.

The wounded boy had improved since arriving at St. John's Regional Medical Center in extremely serious condition, police spokesman David Keith said. "We are guardedly optimistic he will make a recovery," he said.

The shooting occurred near the end of the first period, during an English class that had moved from a classroom to the computer lab, said Jerry Dannenberg, superintendent of the Hueneme School District.

Dannenberg said 22 other students were in the lab at the time.

The one-story campus, which includes grades six though eight, does not have metal detectors.

"I still think the school is safer than any other place in society," Dannenberg said.

Keith said 40 officers arrived within minutes of getting calls of a shooting. The victim was found on the ground and the suspect was apprehended a few blocks away, Keith said.

There was a dispute between the boys but it was premature to state a motive, Keith said.

"This appears to be personal in nature, some bad blood between them. It was not random," he said.

Police did not release the victim's name or describe his wound. Keith said the weapon was a handgun but he did not know how many shots were fired.

The student in custody was being interviewed at a police station but by early afternoon had not been booked, Keith said. The other students in the class were also being interviewed by police.

Students elsewhere in the school were told through loudspeakers to stay in place, he said.

Parents were notified that school would be in session Wednesday and a crisis team would be present.

"This kind of incident is the most difficult for police officers," Keith said. "A 15-year-old should be allowed to go to school and be in a safe environment but this sort of thing happens all over the country."

The school is in south Oxnard near a Navy base at Port Hueneme in Ventura County, northwest of Los Angeles.