ATLANTA - A 14-year-old student was shot in the head at a southeast Atlanta middle school Thursday but is said to be OK, according to his family.
The shooting happened outside Price Middle School, in between the main building and the gym, on Benjamin Weldon Bickers Drive around 1:50 p.m. A teacher was also injured, but not shot, sources said.
The victim was identified as Telvis Douglas. His mother spoke to Channel 2’s Tom Jones from Grady Hospital, where her son is recovering. She said the bullet went through some tissue in the back of her son’s head and came out. Douglas was released from the hospital late Thursday night.
Douglas’ mother said he told her he was in between classes when another student he recognized approached him, started “talking smack” and pulled out a gun. She said he turned to run when he was shot from behind.
A teacher suffered minor injuries when students ran back inside the school after the shooting.
Sources within Atlanta Public Schools told Jones that after the shooting, the gunman emptied his clip, and began shooting randomly at students running away. Neither school officials nor police have addressed the claim on-camera.
APS Superintendent Erroll Davis held a news conference shortly after 5 p.m., saying police and school officials quickly contained the situation.
“There is nothing more important than the safety and security of our students,” Davis said.
He said the school resource officer, an off-duty Atlanta police officer, disarmed the shooter before he was taken into custody.
"When he was taken into custody, the officer actually took the gun off of the student," an officer said.
A lockdown went into effect while school officials and Atlanta police secured campus. Davis said parents were contacted, but maybe not as quickly as they would’ve liked.
“The obvious question is, ‘How did this get past a metal detector?’ That’s something we don’t know as of yet,” he said.
Atlanta police believe the shooting was an isolated incident. They tentatively identified the suspect as another student at the school, but no name has been released. Sandra Farmer, a relative representing the family, said the victim has no gang ties, but sources told Jones officers are looking into whether the shooting was gang-related.
“Telvis is a good kid, a very good kid,” Farmer said.
Frantic parents rushed to school buses after school, desperate to reach their children after news of the shooting spread. Parent after parent embraced their children as they stepped off buses near the school.
“I don’t have too many words to explain. I’m just happy to see her face,” one father said as he held his crying daughter. “And I feel sorry for the other parents.”
After waiting for hours, parent James Bolton Sr. hugged his 10-year-old son in the parking lot of a nearby church at about 5 p.m. He said he was relieved to learn, at about 3:45, that his child was not injured.
“Once they said (the victim) was 14, then I breathed a sigh of relief,” Bolton said. “As long as I got this one back I am OK.”
James Bolton Jr., 10, said, “Something happened out in the courtyard.” Students were told over the intercom that the school was on immediate lockdown, the student said.
A parent of an eighth grader at Price to meet with an assistant principal after her son was involved in a fight said she heard the gunshot.
Upon hearing the gunshot, Madrika Gray said she asked the assistant principal, “Is that what I think it was?”
Children immediately began screaming and running, said Gray, who took cover in the assistant principal’s office.
She said she later saw the shot child “conscious and talking.”
The mother said she has warned her child that fighting leads to more violence.
“It’s like I told him, a fight is not just a fight anymore, you can get killed,” Gray said.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, in a press release, said, “Gun violence in and around our schools is simply unconscionable and must end.
“Too many young people are being harmed, and too many families are suffering from unimaginable and unnecessary grief. I pray that the student who was shot today at Price Middle School in southeast Atlanta recovers quickly and can return home to family and friends,” Reed said. “I would also like the students, faculty and families of the Price Middle School community to know that they have the full support of the City of Atlanta as they heal from today’s terrible incident. The city’s Employee Assistance Program counselors are already at the school providing guidance for students, faculty and family members.”
APS leaders will hold a lessons-learned meeting Friday morning. Davis said he wants to go over the response to the shooting as well as the security measures in place.