Texas student who fatally shot classmate did not intend to kill him, DA says

The 16-year-old is being charged with manslaughter in the on-campus death at the Houston-area school, District Attorney Kim Ogg said.
Image:
Students watch from across the street as authorities respond to a shooting at Bellaire High School in Bellaire, Texas, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020.Mark Mulligan / Houston Chronicle via AP

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By Phil Helsel

The Houston-area high-schooler who fatally shot another student on campus this week did not intend to kill the 19-year-old senior, the Harris County prosecutor said Wednesday.

The suspected shooter, 16, is being charged with manslaughter, not murder, in Tuesday's shooting at Bellaire High School, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said at a news conference.

"The evidence shows that the act that the juvenile committed was not intentional, but it was reckless,” Ogg said, adding that the two appeared to be friends and were part of an ROTC group at the school.

"So, this is not an accident, because pulling a trigger on a gun whether you know if it’s loaded or not is an intentional act," Ogg said. "But he did not, based on the evidence we have right now, intend to kill his friend. Yet he did."

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The victim and the suspect have not been identified by authorities.

The shooter and the victim knew each other and were not engaged in a dispute, Ogg said. “They were friendly; they were friends,” she said.

After the shooting, the gunman fled, and he and a second person were arrested that evening, police have said. The second person, described as an adult, was released with no charges and was simply with the suspect when he was arrested, a police official said.

The handgun thought to have been used has not been recovered and may have been discarded while the suspect fled, the city said.

"It's our information that the suspect brought the gun to school with him that morning,” Bellaire police Lt. Greg Bartlett said Wednesday.

He said the suspect is not cooperating and has not said where the gun is.

It was a .32-caliber semi-automatic pistol, Bartlett said. He said investigators do not know how the student got the gun inside the school.

Bartlett said that it was his understanding that several people saw the suspect with the gun that morning, but to his knowledge no one reported it to the police department. There were other people in the room when the shooting happened, he said.

Bellaire is a city of around 17,000 in the southwestern section of Houston