A suspect is in custody and a 15-year-old student is in a “very serious condition” after a shooting at an Arkansas junior high school on Monday morning.
Pine Bluff Police Department said the shooting was a targeted, isolated incident and not an active shooter case. Police and Watson Chapel Junior High School had earlier implemented active shooter lockdown protocols before the suspect was arrested.
Police chief Kelvin Sergeant said they don’t have a definitive motive behind the shooting, but they believe it was not a random incident.
“The shooter has been identified as a 15-year-old black male, he was a student at Watson Chapel Junior High … the victim was a student there as well,” Mr Sergeant said.
“The suspect was located in the neighbourhood, a street in the neighbourhood of Watson Chapel, hiding behind a house, he was located by the Arkansas Department of Corrections’ dog team.”
Pine Bluff Police responded to the reported shooting at 9.59am local time, with officers arriving on the scene three minutes later to find the single victim of the shooting in a school hallway. He was airlifted to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock for further treatment.
Watson Chapel School District said in a Facebook post that its campuses were placed on lockdown as the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department and Pine Bluff Police Department control and investigate the shooting.
“The parent of the student hurt has been notified so if you have not been notified by the school your student is safe and secure. The police are not letting anyone in and out of the buildings. You will not be allowed to come get your student at this time.”
As police cleared the classrooms, students were transferred to the school gym until the lockdown was lifted a few hours later.
About 44 miles south of Little Rock, the junior high school had just returned to on-site learning for the first day of the year.
Mr Sergeant said that the 15-year-old suspect was taken to the Jack Jones Juvenile Justice Centre where police will file formal charges.
He said a decision on whether he will be charged as a juvenile or adult was pending review and would be made within the next 48 hours.