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12-year-old killed in South Carolina middle school shooting; suspect, also 12, in custody

A classmate was arrested off campus and is expected to be charged with murder, the sheriff's office said.

A 12-year-old student died in a shooting at a South Carolina middle school Thursday, and authorities took a classmate, also 12, into custody as a suspect shortly after police were called to the scene.

More than 100 officers responded to Tanglewood Middle School in Greenville working to identify the shooter, the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office said. A request for backup was called in at about 12:30 p.m. by the school's resource officer.

A 12-year-old boy was taken to a local hospital with a gunshot wound, Greenville County Sheriff Hobart Lewis said. The sheriff's office later confirmed on Facebook that the boy had died.

Syndication: The Greenville News
Law enforcement officers respond to a shooting Thursday at Tanglewood Middle School in Greenville, S.C.Mike Ellis / USA Today Network

Another 12-year-old student was taken into custody near campus shortly after the report was called in, the sheriff's office said. He left the school immediately after the shooting, deputies found out later.

Deputies were given a tip that the boy might be at a nearby residence, and they later found him hiding under a deck at the house. A handgun was recovered as he was taken into custody.

He was arrested and is being charged with murder, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, possession of a firearm on school property and unlawful possession of a weapon by a minor, the sheriff's office said.

The motive, as well as how the shooter got hold of the gun, are still being investigated. The sheriff’s office said the boys “were familiar with each other” and that it believes it was an isolated incident.

"We have a had a very trying situation, for sure," Lewis said. "Our heart goes out to the family, all the families involved. We certainly ask that you pray for the family of that victim."

Neither of the students, who are minors, were identified.

Lewis commended the school staff for isolating the children in accordance with lockdown procedure.

"It worked seamlessly," Lewis said.

Greenville County School District Superintendent Burke Royster said it is still unclear what led to the shooting.

"I'm not sure even after a full and thorough law enforcement investigation anyone will really know what was going through the mind of that young person that took this rash act," Royster said. "So I don't know if there's anyone ... except that person, and they may not even be able to articulate it for you."

Parents were instructed to take identification to a local church to pick up their children, the school said in a statement.