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One student wounded, 16-year-old boy in custody after school cafeteria shooting in Texas

A 16-year-old suspected gunman is in custody after he allegedly shot a teenage girl in a high school cafeteria in Italy, Tex., on Jan. 22. (Video: Reuters)

A 16-year-old boy is in custody after a shooting at a Texas high school cafeteria Monday morning that injured one student, authorities said.

Just before 8 a.m. local time, police responded to reports of an active shooter at Italy High School in the town of Italy, about 50 miles south of Dallas.

A 15-year-old girl was wounded in the shooting and airlifted to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, according to the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office said it would not release the girl’s condition, and a hospital spokeswoman said they had no information to release Monday.

Authorities are still investigating any relationship between the alleged shooter and victim, both students in the Italy Independent School District, Ellis County Sheriff Chuck Edge told reporters at a news conference Monday afternoon.

Edge said the suspect “engaged the victim in the cafeteria and fired several shots from a semiautomatic .380 handgun.” Afterward, the shooter was confronted by a school staff member inside the cafeteria, Edge said.

“That is when the suspect fled,” Edge said. The boy was apprehended outside the cafeteria but still on school grounds, he added.

The .380 handgun was recovered at the scene as evidence, and investigators do not know yet where the boy got the firearm, Edge said.

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Authorities have not charged the boy and have not determined a motive yet, he said.

“We don’t know the extent of those charges until we finish the investigation,” Edge said. “This is still obviously an extremely fluid and ongoing investigation and we’re not going to be releasing any details of the investigation at this time.”

As of Monday afternoon, the Italy High School campus was turned back over to the school district after investigators were satisfied there were no other firearms on the premises, Edge said.

On a typical school morning, about 45 to 55 students would have been in the cafeteria at the time of the shooting, according to Italy Independent School District Superintendent Lee Joffre. He told reporters he was not there when the shooting occurred but that some staff members, such as teachers or instructional aides, would have been.

The gunshots caused a commotion as panicked students fled the cafeteria, according to Edgar Eduardo Rodriguez, a 15-year-old Italy High student who said he witnessed the shooting, told KWTX News.

“I was pretty scared,” Rodriguez told the news station. “I never imagined that, like this is a small town, you know? I never imagined it.”

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Joffre, the superintendent, said he could not share the shooting suspect’s disciplinary history at the school.

“In a small town, the school district is the center for what goes on for our kids,” Joffre said. “This morning’s tragedy hits the heart of this community.”

Students were prevented from immediately leaving the Italy High School campus after the shooting, partly in keeping with active-shooter drills the school had conducted in the past, Joffre said at an earlier news conference.

“We hope that things like this never happen in a community; unfortunately, we have to prepare as a school district,” he said. “We set those types of procedures to where the police department can interview students as necessary and we can make sure we have an account of all the students and their safety.”

The district transported students from Italy High School to a nearby elementary school so that they could be reunited with their parents, Joffre said.

Joffre praised his staff for acting “as trained” and for addressing the situation “in the best way they could.”

Classes would be held as scheduled Tuesday, Joffre said, adding that the district was making arrangements for grief counselors to be available to students who needed them.

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