A student at Perry Hall High School was shot on campus this morning, the first day of the new academic year, Baltimore County Police say, and another student was taken into custody.
The injured student, whose identity and extent of injury was not revealed, was taken by Medevac to an area hospital, authorities said. Students are being escorted to the nearby Perry Hall Shopping Center at the corner of Ebenezer Road and Belair Road, where parents can meet them, police said.
Hundreds of visibly shaken parents and others gathered at the Perry Hall Shopping Center at the corner of Ebenezer Road and Belair Road as police helicopters hovered overhead.
Senior Arielle Brown said students were in the cafeteria for about 15 minutes when they heard a pop, a sound she compared to the opening of a bag of chips.
It was soon after that, they said, they realized what was happening.
Miranda Wienecke, a junior, said she saw the suspect with a "huge black thing," and soon after realized that it was a weapon.
"I saw people getting under the table," Wienecke said."Then I saw people running. We heard this huge boom, then there was another one, everything happened very fast."
Both students said two staff members intervened, tackling the student, embracing him in a bear hug, and pinning him up against a nearby vending machine.
Senior Mike Koogle, who was down the hall, said, "We thought it was someone slamming a door. Then people started yelling. A teacher ran in and said lockdown."
He said the secretary got on the PA system and said, "We are in code red. We are in code red."
"We are kids. We were terrified," Koogle said. He said they went into a classroom, turned out the lights and did their best to hide.
Freshman Victoria Cole was on her way to the cafeteria for first lunch period when she heard a bang. "The teacher said 'Get back. Get back,'" said Cole. Then that teacher pushed Cole's group into a nearby classroom. Cole says she heard four more bangs after the first sound she heard. Cole also heard a teacher say that he had pulled a kid away before he could hurt anyone.
Cole used her cell phone to keep her parents updated on the situation. Her mother was on the school premises, taking care of paperwork in the office. Cole's father, Christopher, a Baltimore City firefighter, said, "I was so upset [by the constant updates]. This can happen anywhere. No matter where you go to school."
As of 12:15 p.m., there were reports that there were still many students in the school, but that the wing near the cafeteria had been locked down. It was also confirmed that a 17-year-old male was taken to shock trauma and a 15-year-old male was in custody. Police do not believe the victim was targeted.
As of 12:30 p.m., students were still leaving the school, walking out in an orderly fashion, some arm-in-arm toward Perry Hall Middle School. The mood was quiet and subdued.
Any students who were outside of the school were being taken to the shopping center, and those inside the school were directed to Perry Hall Middle and a nearby high school.
Baltimore County Councilman David Marks, who lives next door to Perry Hall High School, said he's received dozens of phone calls this morning from worried parents and residents.
"It's horrifying," said Marks, a graduate of the school. "This is a very peaceful community, and my prayers are with anyone who's been impacted by this."
Lisa Eisemann, a parent of a freshman and a senior, said, "How does he have a gun? ... Somebody's baby was hit, somebody's child is in Shock Trauma fighting for his life."
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan was at the school last Wednesday to address 800 Baltimore County English teachers to boost morale.
Reached by phone just before 11:30 a.m. a health assistant at the high school, who declined to give her name, said that the building had been on lockdown for about 45 minutes, requiring students and personnel to stay in their classrooms or offices with the doors locked.
No other information about the incident had been provided to her, said the health assistant, who remained locked in the school's health suite.
A secretary in the library, who also declined to give her name because she is not authorized to speak to the media, said students and teachers who were in the library at the time of the incident were still in locked in the library at about 11:35 a.m.
The secretary directed inquiries about the incident to the school's main office. That phone line, though, has been busy for much of the morning.
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