BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) – An 8-year-old girl was in critical condition Wednesday after she was shot in the abdomen at her elementary school near Seattle, and one of her classmates was detained, authorities said Wednesday.
The injured third-grader was airlifted to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center, where she underwent surgery Wednesday afternoon so doctors could assess her injuries, hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg said.
Police said a third-grade boy was being questioned and a firearm was found in a classroom. The boy apparently shot the girl, though police provided no further details about the incident and said their investigation was just beginning.
The Bremerton Schools superintendent’s office said the girl was shot in the abdomen.
Bremerton police Lt. Peter Fisher said officers and emergency crews were dispatched to Armin Jahr Elementary school in Bremerton around 1:30 p.m. in response to a call that a student was shot by another student. The school is in a quiet residential neighborhood about 20 miles west of Seattle, across Puget Sound.
The school went into lockdown immediately after the shooting, said Bremerton Schools spokeswoman Patty Glaser. Lockdown procedures call for announcements to be made over the school’s loudspeakers and for teachers to lock their classrooms, she said.
Armin Jahr Elementary has about 400 students, Glaser said. She said the school will reopen Thursday and three counselors will talk to teachers, students and parents.
“Our plans at this time, school will continue as usual,” Glaser said.
When asked how a gun was brought into the school, Fisher said police were still investigating the circumstances and couldn’t provide details.
Police were working with the school district Wednesday afternoon to reunite parents with their children, Fisher added, and investigators were interviewing witnesses, which included students.
As of mid-afternoon, parents were still arriving to pick up their children from the school. A police officer was checking vehicles as they entered the parking lot.
Many questions remained, including how a child could have obtained a loaded weapon and brought it into a grade school classroom.
In the latest scorecard by the Brady Campaign, a national gun control advocacy group, Washington scored no points in the child safety category because the state does not require trigger locks for guns and lacks laws to prevent child access to firearms.
“Washington state is a loosely regulated state when it comes to firearms,” said Gregory Roberts, executive director of Washington Cease Fire, a Brady Campaign affiliate.
Amanda Roth, a staff attorney for the San Francisco-based Legal Community Against Violence, said 27 states and the District of Columbia have some form of firearm child access prevention laws. Such laws can include requirements to use gun locks and criminal penalties for adults who allow children to get their hands on guns.
(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)