Erie High School Shooting Suspect Turns Himself in to Police
BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: The juvenile suspect in Tuesday's shooting at Erie High School turned himself in to police Wednesday.
No other details were immediately available. Police said the investigation is ongoing.
EARLIER: Police have identified and charged a juvenile who is not in custody following Tuesday's shooting at Erie High School.
The suspect and victim are both students at the school, according to Erie Police Deputy Chief Mike Nolan, who also called it an "isolated, targeted incident" and not a "random act of violence."
Multiple shots were fired just after 9:20 a.m. inside the building at 3325 Cherry St., which caused the school to go into a hard lockdown. Officers arrived at the scene 90 seconds after it was reported, and all of the Erie Police Department's officers were called to the scene, Nolan said.
Police located the gunshot victim who was being treated by a staff nurse. That person was taken to the UPMC Hamot for non-life-threatening injuries and, at last word, is in stable condition. The hospital's emergency department was briefly placed on lockdown.
It happened in the school hallway, and other students were in the vicinity at the time, Nolan said. Security video shows one shooting suspect who left the school immediately afterwards but before police arrived.
Students were dismissed classroom-by-classroom about an hour after the shooting once the school district and police officers searched and secured the building, Erie's Public Schools said in a statement. The Blue Coats assisted with the reunification of students.
Police said a 9mm firearm was used, and more than one shot was fired. Several sources told Erie News Now the victim was hit twice in the upper leg.
The suspect is under the age of 15 and could not be charged as an adult under the Fisher Bill, according to the district attorney. As a result, the name and age is not being released, police said.
We also learned no metal detectors are being used for security at the school.
Erie News Now has obtained new video showing police entering one of the classrooms while responding to the school shooting.
A student who was getting help from a teacher with an assignment told Erie News Now he heard eight gunshots.
"All you hear is shots go off, and my teacher ran to the door," the student said. "He looked out the door and he just tells everybody to jump out the window and tried to take cover behind his desk, and we just jumped out his window."
Classes have been canceled for the rest of the week for Erie High School students, and the district will be observing spring break the following week, according to Erie's Public Schools. More details on the return to school will be released in coming days.
Erie’s Public Schools superintendent Brian Polito also released a statement, calling for youth violence to be addressed in the community.
“We are devastated and angered by this senseless tragedy, and we are all hoping for the full and speedy recovery of the student involved,” said Polito in a statement. “I want to thank district and city police for their very prompt and thorough response."
“Incidents like these are a reflection of a troubling rise in youth violence in Erie,” Polito said. “As we ask the entire community to come together to address this challenge, we are working on a comprehensive plan for students and staff to safely return to school. The wellbeing of our students and staff is and always will be our priority, and we will take every measure possible to ensure their safety and security.”
Counselors and other professionals who are trained to help with emotional needs will be available at the Erie Center for Arts & Technology, 650 East Ave., for students, staff and parents. Other locations for support services may be announced in the near future, according to school district officials.
The Erie Education Association, which represents the school's faculty and staff, also issued a statement from its president, Mary Theuerkauf, on safety and security:
“For years, we have demanded that the City of Erie School District Administration and School Directors confront the multitude of safety and security threats our staff have brought before them. Each time, we’re told, ‘it will take time, we’re working on it.’
While they ‘worked on it,’ the life-threatening consequences of their inaction came to a reality this morning for students and teachers who witnessed a student shoot another student in our school hallway. The District’s failure to prevent this has produced a trauma that will echo through the hallways of each building as we wonder where this may happen next. Not only are the lives of the child who was shot and the child who pulled the trigger irrevocably changed now, but also the lives of the teachers and children who witnessed it.
No bureaucracy is worth a human life. We will not stand by one day more until the safety of our students and staff is properly addressed. This is a demand, not a suggestion, that Administration and School Board start acting to protect the lives in our buildings.”
City of Erie Mayor Joe Schember also released a statement on shooting:
“The shooting at Erie High School this morning is very saddening. Schools should be safe places where children learn and grow. I am receiving great updates from Superintendent Brian Polito and Police Chief Dan Spizarny. I know this is difficult for parents to hear. But remember: all students are now safe! We must all stay away from the area until Erie’s Public Schools announces a dismissal process. My thoughts and prayers are with the students, teachers, administrators, and all the Police Officers who have secured the building. What they all need right now is our love and support.”
U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (PA-16) is also responding to the situation:
“My team and I are closely monitoring the shooting at Erie High School," Kelly said. "I am praying for the recovery of the individual who was shot and for all involved. Thank you to all of the brave first responders who rushed to the scene. My staff has already spoken to Superintendent Polito’s office to offer any assistance we can. The Erie community is strong, and together we will heal from this tragedy.”