EDINBURG, Texas (AP) Two middle school students were wounded by gunfire Monday afternoon while trying out for a basketball team, and authorities suspect hunters may to be blame.
Two boys — ages 13 and 14 — were shot, said Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino. Classes were not in session at Harwell Middle School when the shooting happened around 4:45 p.m., but the school complex was immediately placed on lockdown.
One of the wounded boys was in critical condition Monday night with a bullet embedded in an organ. The other was stable and awaiting X-rays, Trevino said.
At the time of the shooting, one of the boys was going for a layup. The other was waiting his turn to try out, Trevino said.
The sheriff said it was too early to say whether the students were targeted or if the shooting was accidental.
Investigators believe the shots may have come from hunters on adjacent farm property, Trevino said. The shots did not come from the campus and were not a result of a drive-by, he said.
Harwell Middle School had opened just this year on the rural property northeast of Edinburg, which is about 50 miles northwest of Brownsville. Homes line the road approaching the school, but open fields stretch out behind it and to the north.
Investigators have spoken with owners of surrounding farms and the land was being leased to deer hunters, Trevino said. One hunter who was found on one of the adjoining properties was being interviewed by investigators, and two others were questioned but released.
The outdoor court where the shooting took place was north of the school complex at an athletic facility that includes a football field, track and tennis courts, said Oziel Garzia, a 14-year-old eighth-grader.
Annette Vargas Ugalde, a 15-year-old eighth grader, said she was about to board her bus near the gym after school when school officials started rushing students indoors.
“They told us to, ‘Get inside, get inside,'” she said.
She said she heard no shots but saw a group of people on the outdoor court standing near one boy on the ground. A school nurse tended to him while another boy was sitting up.
Annett said she boarded her bus and it left.
Samuel Cepeda, a 15-year-old eighth-grader, said gangs have been a problem at the school, and he has worried about security. However, Trevino said investigators do not believe the shooting was gang related.
The school district did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
By 7:20 p.m. Monday, traffic had cleared from the road in front of the school, and only emergency vehicles remained. Several school buses made their way through traffic and the police cordon to the front of the school where they picked up students.
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