Thursday, February 23, 2006

Madison Memorial Student Shot Multiple Times With Airsoft Pellet Gun

MADISON, Wis. -- A 14-year-old student at Madison Memorial High School was shot at least 20 times with a pellet gun by another student on Wednesday afternoon, police said.

The incident began at around 4 p.m. when Cassandra Graffee, 17, allegedly tried to start a fight with the 14-year-old victim, police said. Graffee is accused of then shooting her about 20 times in the chest, stomach, head, and neck with an Airsoft pellet gun.

After the weapon ran out of pellets, a 12-year-old boy who was with Graffee allegedly pulled out another pellet gun and shot the victim four more times.

Graffee is now charged with disorderly conduct while armed and having a dangerous weapon on school premises, WISC-TV reported.

Police said that violent pellet gun attacks are a growing problem.

"This seems to be the breakthrough year for pellet guns with juveniles," said Mike Hanson, the Madison police's public information officer. "It's really desensitizing the group of individuals using it because they think it's acceptable behavior, whether it's bringing them to school or shooting it at another person."

Memorial High School has more weapons offenses this year than the other three Madison high schools combined. In just the first half of the year, Memorial had seven weapons offenses, which matches the number of weapons violations for the past two years combined, WISC-TV reported.

Those violations include students bringing pellet guns to school.

Hanson said that authorities are concerned that these real-looking pellet guns will have an emotional effect from people being afraid that they might be shot with a real gun. In addition, an officer might easily mistake them for real guns and could accidentally use deadly force.

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