17-Year-Old Students Shot, One Killed, In High School Classroom
Birmingham, AL – A 17-year-old girl was fatally shot and another student was wounded at an Alabama high school on Wednesday.
Senior Courtlin Arrington was killed in a classroom at Huffman High School at about 3:45 pm on March 7, just after school was dismissed for the day, according to the Birmingham News.
A second 17-year-old student was injured by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his leg, police said.
The incident was initially reported to police as an “active shooter” situation, the Birmingham News reported. However, officers were quick to clarify that information when they arrived on the scene.
“Listen. We've had an accidental shooting, not an active shooter. We have the gun, we have the one who had the gun. We just need two paramedic vehicles to get these two kids out,” an officer told dispatchers over the radio, according to the Birmingham News.
First responders performed CPR on Arrington at the scene and in the ambulance, but she was pronounced dead upon arrival at the University of Alabama – Birmingham Hospital, police said.
Police said the wounded student was also transported to the hospital, where he was treated and then released, NBC News reported.
He was later taken into custody by police as a person of interest in the shooting, according to the Birmingham News.
Initially, police said the shooting appeared to be an accidental, WBRC-TV reported.
However, investigators reviewed the surveillance video from the school following the incident, and may have changed their minds.
The actual shooting was captured on video, and whatever investigators saw led them to pursue charges against the student who had been wounded, according to WBRC.
"At this particular time, we consider it accidental until the investigation takes us elsewhere,'' Birmingham Police Chief Orlando Wilson said initially.
"We have a lot of unanswered questions. There are so many unknowns at this time,” Chief Wilson said.
He later added that “This is not a situation where someone came in and randomly fired from the outside,” NBC News reported.
The chief said investigators were continuing to review video footage, and interviewing students and faculty.
"Detectives of the Birmingham Police Department have been working through the night reviewing evidence, video and statements on the tragic incident that took place at Huffman High School yesterday," Birmingham Police Lieutenant Peter Williston told WBRC in a statement. "Due to their diligent work a person of interest has been taken into custody."
NBC News said that Chief Wilson wouldn't discuss how two people could have been shot “by accident.” However, he said investigators hadn’t learned of any argument or threat occurring prior to the shooting.
Huffman High School was closed on Thursday.
Birmingham City Schools Superintendent Lisa Herring said school officials were using the day to conduct a thorough safety sweep of the school, and to organize counseling support for students and faculty, the Birmingham News reported.
"The magnitude of this event causes us to pause," Herring said. "However, we want to assure our parents, students, staff and community that safety and security are a top priority for Birmingham City Schools.”
She said the high school does have working metal detectors but they weren't in use on Wednesday for unexplained reasons, according to ABC News.
Students were scheduled to return to the high school campus on Friday.
WBRC reported that after the shots were fired, Huffman High School was put into lockdown. However, some parents said they weren’t notified of that fact.
Birmingham City Schools Strategy and Communications Officer Adrienne Mitchell told WBRC that a recorded message had been sent out to parents, but would not confirm when it was sent, and whether it advised parents specifically of the shooting and lockdown.
School officials and friends mourned the loss of Arrington on Thursday, whom they said planned to graduate in May, and had already been accepted to college. Friends said she was considering becoming a nurse.
"We're not just talking about some person, we're talking about losing a part of our future,'' said Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. “Our hearts are heavy.”