Three deer hunters have been detained, one of them having been arrested on suspicion of trespassing, for possibly shooting two male students participating in outdoor basketball tryouts at Harwell Middle School in south Texas on Monday, according to the Los Angeles Times. Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino told The Associated Press that authorities have theorized that the two were hit by errant or stray bullets fired from hunting pastures near the school.
Trevino said that investigators hadn't determined early Tuesday whether the shootings were accidental, reckless or intentional. He also said the hunters, who were taken in for questioning Monday night, weren't immediately arrested. Authorities searched Tuesday morning for rifle casings to see if they match the barrel markings on the guns the hunters questioned had in their possession.
It's undetermined if it was intentional, someone was reckless, or a plain old accident, Trevino said. We just don't know yet. We're going to continue to see what the three people have got to say for themselves, see if we can piece that together.
The two boys were 13 and 14. One was in critical condition Monday night with a bullet wound in the back and the bullet embedded in an organ, while the other was in stable condition with an armpit bullet wound. At the time of the shooting, one of was going for a layup, while the other was waiting on line.
Trevino said that two hunting pastures are within 600 yards of the school.
According to reports, classes weren't in session when the shooting happened, but the school complex was immediately placed on lockdown. Classes went on as scheduled Tuesday, but with increased security and counseling.
According to Edinburg school district spokesman Gilbert Tagle, other after-school activities, such as a concert and a faculty meeting, were going on at the school besides the basketball tryouts. He estimated as many as 200 children could have been on campus.
Eighth-grader Oziel Garcia, 14, said that the outdoor court where the boys were shot was north of the school complex at an athletic facility that includes a football field, track and tennis courts.
The L.A. Times reported that Tagle said two pieces of land next to the middle school are routinely leased to hunters, and that Trevino had told Tagle no law bars hunting on the properties.
Tagle also said the district plans to erect a cinder block wall in the area where the hunting goes on to better protect students. It was not clear how soon the wall would be built or how much it would cost, though.