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A student waits at the Roswell Mall after a shooting at Berrendo Middle School on Jan. 15. / Mark Wilson, Roswell Daily Record, via AP

Ten seconds of horror and one heroic teacher turned a normal New Mexico morning into one that will never be forgotten at a Roswell middle school that boasts of winning the girls city basketball championship and days earlier issued its midyear report cards.

Police say a 12-year-old student walked into the crowded gym at Berrendo Middle School shortly before school was to start Tuesday and began firing a 20-gauge sawed-off shotgun that belonged to his parents. Two students were wounded, one critically. Chaos ensued.

"I just saw blood everywhere," said Essance Sosa, 12. "Everyone started screaming and running."

The state police chief said Wednesday afternoon that there is evidence that the shooting was "thought out and planned" but that the victims were random. Initial reports indicated the wounded boy had been a target.

The boy warned some students away before opening fire, police said.

His family identified him Wednesday as Mason Campbell, according to a statement on KOB.com. The Albuquerque Journal and other local media have also identified the boy, but police have not released his name.

The boy was charged Wednesday with three felony counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, KOB-TV reported.

The pump-action, pistol-grip shotgun was loaded with three rounds. One was fired at the gym floor, one at the ceiling and one at students gathered in the stands, about 12 to 15 feet away, State Police Chief Pete Kassetas said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

"We found evidence it was thought-out and planned. I believe when the incident occurred, it was random," he said. "The victims were random."

Authorities say John Masterson, an eighth-grade social studies teacher who coaches girls soccer and track, saved lives when he immediately stepped in and talked the shooter into dropping his weapon.

"The young man shoots and shoots and then is pointing the firearm at Mr. Masterson," Gov. Susana Martinez said. "Mr. Masterson then begins to talk to him, telling him to put it down. The young man put it down and raised his hands.

"He (Masterson) stood there and allowed the gun to be pointed right at him, so there would be no more young kids hurt," Martinez said.

Masterson then held the student until a state police lieutenant, dropping his own child off at the school, was alerted to the shooting and took the suspect into custody.

"It was a harrowing experience," Masterson told the Albuquerque Journal. "All I can say was the staff there did a great job."

Kassetas lauded Lt. Gary Smith, the parent who was alerted by the school's principal that a shooting had just taken place.

"He left his son in the car and went to the gym," Kassetas said. "He had to make that difficult decision to leave his child and go into that school. Imagine having to make that decision."

Kassetas said preliminary information indicated that the shooter may have warned some students not to go to school Tuesday. He was transferred to a psychiatric hospital after a hearing Tuesday.

"Active shooter" drills by the Roswell Independent School District helped prepare teachers and students to deal with the situation.

An 11-year-old boy was flown to University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas, in critical condition with wounds to the face and neck, and a 13-year-old girl arrived in serious condition with a wound to her right shoulder. Martinez said the unidentified boy underwent two surgeries, and he remained in critical condition Wednesday.

Martinez identified the girl as Kendal Sanders, 13, and said her condition was upgraded to stable. The boy's family asked that he not be identified.

"Our hearts and our prayers go out to the families and students who were affected by this senseless action," Superintendent of Schools Tom Burris said. He said the school would be closed Wednesday, but plans were underway to reopen Thursday.

Investigators aren't sure why Mason, who has not been named by authorities or formally charged, opened fire.

Classmates described him as "a nice guy" and said he was the target of bullying and insults from the wounded boy and others in class, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

Wednesday afternoon, his parents and grandparents released a statement saying "our constant thoughts and our fervent prayers" are with the wounded students and their families.

"We are horribly sad over this tragedy on so many levels," said in a statement from Jim and Jennifer Campbell, and Robert and Nancy Bowles. "We are praying that God will be with everyone who has been affected. For all of the anguish that many suffered yesterday, our family offers our heartfelt condolences and remorse in words that we cannot fully express."

"His whole family is heart broken as are many others in our tight-knit community in Roswell," they added.

The statement also thanked the judge for ordering a psychiatric evaluation and said the family "will cooperate in all ways with law enforcement to piece together how this awful tragedy occurred."

Contributing: Associated Press; Michael Winter, USA TODAY



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: N.M. teacher's actions saved lives in school shooting

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