GREENVILLE, SC — A 12-year-old student was shot and killed Thursday by another 12-year-old student inside their South Carolina middle school, authorities said. The shooter is in custody.
The shooter, whose identity has not yet been released, was found hiding under a deck at a home not far from Tanglewood Middle School in Greenville about an hour after the shooting and was still armed, Greenville County Sheriff Hobart Lewis said.
Deputies said they arrested the boy and are charging him with murder, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, possession of a firearm on school property, and unlawful possession of a weapon by a person under the age of 18. He’ll be taken to the Department of Juvenile Justice in Columbia, deputies said.
“He was hiding. He’s a young man, he probably didn’t understand the consequences of what had just happened,” the sheriff said at a news conference. “I do n’t think he knew what to do, honestly, except for him to leave the school.”
While the motive for the shooting and how the boy got a gun is still under investigation, deputies said victim and suspect knew each other. They also said the incident was isolated and no other students were hurt.
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The boy who was killed was later identified as Jamari Cortez Bonaparte Jackson. Jackson’s family released a statement asking people to respect their privacy as they grieve.
“We are all devastated by today’s tragedy. We love Jamari dearly,” the family said in a statement released by the community justice group Fighting Injustice Together.
A police officer at the school called in the shooting and requested emergency backup around 12:30 pm and more than 200 deputies and other law enforcement officers arrived at the school, Lewis said.
Everyone on campus, including teachers, were taken to a nearby church.
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Greenville County Schools Superintendent Burke Royster said he doesn’t have any idea how the gun ended up at school and a student killed.
“I’m not sure after a full and thorough law enforcement investigation anyone will really know what was going through the mind of that young person who took this rash act,” Royster said.
Classes at Tanglewood Middle School will be optional for students and staff on Friday, WLOS reports. They’ll resume normal operations on Monday.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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