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John Masterson and his wife Lea stand outside their door as they talk to the media. Mr. Masterson is believed to be the teacher who confronted the shooter and took the shotgun away at a middle school Tuesday morning. He has been ordered by State police to keep quiet about the incident until he is advised, Jan. 14, 2014. (AP Photo/The Albuquerque Journal, Roberto Rosales) MANDATORY PHOTO CREDIT: ROBERTO ROSALES/THE ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL
Police: School shooting planned; victims picked randomly
Crime » Hearing gunshots, students laughed because they thought it was just another drill.
First Published Jan 15 2014 05:51 pm • Last Updated Jan 15 2014 06:41 pm

Roswell, N.M. • The 12-year-old boy who opened fire inside a New Mexico middle school gym warned some students away just before the attack, state Police Chief Pete Kassetas said Wednesday.

Kassetas said the attack at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell was planned in advance. But he said it appeared the boy’s victims — an 11-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl — were chosen randomly.

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During a press briefing, Kassetas declined to speculate on a motive or say when charges would be filed. But he said the boy got the shotgun from his family’s home and had three rounds of ammunition.

"All three rounds were expended during the incident," Kassetas said. "There was no indication that he had any ammunition other than what was loaded in the gun."

Officials also said Wednesday the 11-year-old boy who was shot in the face and neck remained in critical condition at University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas. The 13-year-old girl, identified as Kendal Sanders, was in satisfactory condition with injuries to the right shoulder. The family of the injured boy has asked that his name be withheld while he recovers.

Kassetas said investigators worked through the night executing search warrants at the school and determined the attack was planned. They examined the boy’s locker and the duffel bag the seventh-grader used to transport the .20-gauge shotgun to school. Kassetas said the handle of the gun was sawed off so it had "more of a pistol grip."

The police chief added authorities had some indication that the boy verbally warned "select students" about the attack as he arrived at the school. Kassetas didn’t elaborate.

The whole thing was over in 10 seconds, officials said, after the boy shot at the ceiling, the floor, then the students. An eighth-grade social-studies teacher, John Masterson, then stepped in and talked the boy into dropping his weapon. Masterson and other teachers were lauded for taking quick action that authorities said would have saved lives had the boy had more ammunition or had there been another gunman.

Chaves County Sheriff Rob Coon said all the schools in the county, public and private, undergo regular training for dealing with "active shooters."

"The teachers and the staff at Berrendo knew exactly what to do," he said. "They went into their lockdown. They followed the way they were taught. If there would have been more than one young man roaming the halls, there would have been minimal damage because they locked that down so quick."

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Andrea Leon, a 13-year-old eighth grader at the school, said students have completed so many drills that some started laughing when the shots first rang out in the school’s gym "because they thought it was fake."

Police and schools nationwide adopted "active shooter" policies after Columbine High School students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 classmates and a teacher, and wounded 26 others before killing themselves in the Littleton, Colo., school’s library in 1999. Police waited 45 minutes for a SWAT team to arrive before entering the school. Officers now are trained to confront a shooter immediately.

The boy accused in the Roswell shooting was transferred to an Albuquerque psychiatric hospital after a hearing Tuesday, according to attorney Robert Gorence, who is representing his family.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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