Saturday, January 14, 2006

Police officer shoots armed 15-year-old in Florida school (Roundup)

Washington - A police officer shot a 15-year-old boy in a school in Florida Friday after the eighth grader pointed a modified pellet gun at him, officials said.

The boy, whose condition in hospital is not known, brought the pellet gun to school in his backpack and briefly took a fellow student hostage in a classroom, local sheriff Donald F. Eslinger told reporters outside the Milwee Middle School near Longwood, in central Florida.

The boy was shot by a Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) officer when he came out of the school's restroom pointing what looked like a 9 mm handgun, Eslinger said.

Neither the hostage nor any other students or teachers were injured, he added.

In a statement released after the news conference, Eslinger described the 15-year-old as suicidal, adding that when the sheriff's deputies attempted to establish a dialogue with him, he said he would kill himself or die one way or another.

The boy's Airsoft pellet gun had been painted black to 'look like a real gun', Eslinger said, adding that pellet guns are usually pink or red to set them apart from more dangerous weapons.

The boy had at first threatened fellow pupils in a classroom before he barricaded himself in the toilets.

'He told another girl to tell the teacher 'I have a gun,'' and then lifted his shirt to show the handle of the handgun,' fellow student Dei-end Dilworth told the Orlando Sentinel. After he pulled the weapon and cocked it, he told everyone to sit down, the girl said.

Instead, the students started running from the classroom, she added. The boy then ran to the toilets, while students were being evacuated, Eslinger said.

After being rushed by ambulance to a local hospital, he was later moved to a children's hospital, the newspaper said.

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