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Supporters of Berrendo Middle School hold welcome backs signs and balloons while waving American flags and yellow ribbons, greet returning students, parents and teachers back to the school Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014, in Roswell, N.M. Two days after the shooting that involved three students and forced the evacuation and closing of the school. / Mark Wilson AP

ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) - The family of a New Mexico middle school girl shot by a fellow student on campus said the suspected shooter "is not a bad boy" and that people need to stop trying to find someone to blame.

Bert Sanders, the father of 13-year-old shooting victim Kendal, told reporters Monday he believes the boy's family are "good people," the Roswell Daily Record reports (http://goo.gl/u4QIZg). He also said his daughter and the suspected shooter are friends.

Both went to Vacation Bible Study together and Kendal shares her father's forgiving nature, he said. "She is not angry at (the suspected shooter). She thinks he made bad choices," Bert Sanders told reporters.

Kendal and 12-year-old Nathaniel Tavarez were wounded when the young gunman entered the crowded Berrendo Middle School gym Jan. 14 and fired three times from a 20-gauge shotgun.

The seventh-grade suspect has been charged as a juvenile with three counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

Under New Mexico law, the state can charge minors as adults only if they are at least 14. The Associated Press typically doesn't identify juveniles accused of crimes.

Nathaniel Tavarez remained at a Lubbock, Texas, hospital Monday. A family member said the boy is in critical but stable condition and is now breathing on his own.

Bert Sanders said he believed no one is the blame for the shooting. "Not the teachers. Not the schools. The responsibility is ours. We as parents need to be more involved," he said.

The injured girl's mother, Nickie, told reporters gathered at a news conference Monday that her daughter has lost movement in one arm but her feeling and mobility should return.

The girl's family expects she will be homeschooled for the rest of the year.



Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read the original story: Dad of NM shooting victim: shooter 'not a bad boy'

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