Shock and sorrow tore through another community on Friday after a middle school shooting in central Indiana sent a teacher and a teenage student to the hospital in critical condition.
The shooting occurred at Noblesville West Middle School, which overlooks a reservoir some 30 miles north of Indianapolis. At a press conference, officials confirmed that they had arrested a male student believed to be the assailant. Local news media reported that the teacher was shot while trying to tackle the shooter. The injured student was 13 years old.
Days before students were scheduled to begin their summer break, the burst of gun violence plunged the usually tranquil suburb into panic. The incident was called in to 911 as an active shooter situation shortly after 9 a.m., drawing a huge law enforcement response as officials scrambled to clear the school and evacuate its 1,300 students. Local news broadcasts showed the familiar image of students streaming out of a building into a line of waiting school buses. At nearby Noblesville High School, a throng of parents anxiously waited to be reunited with their children.
Nearly 20 U.S. children are shot every day.
“We ask for your prayers for the victims in this case, and I think that would include a lot of kids, not only the ones that truly were the victims in this case, but all these other kids that are trying to make sense of the situation,” Lieutenant Bruce Barnes, a spokesman for the Noblesville Police Department, said during a news conference.
The shooting comes exactly one week after a 17-year-old student rampaged through Sante Fe High School south of Houston, using his father’s guns to kill 10 people, and a little more than three months after a 19-year-old armed with an assault-style rifle attacked Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, taking 17 lives.
An analysis published earlier this week by CNN found that there had been 288 school shootings – defined as an incident in which at least one person besides the shooter was shot on school grounds – in the United States since 2009. That’s 57 times the number of school shootings that occurred over the same period in the world’s other major industrialized countries, combined.
For all their horrors, school shootings account for a sliver of the nearly 1,300 American children under 18 who are fatally shot each year. In the last week, at least nine American teens have died from gunshot injuries. They include a 16-year-old boy fatally shot in the face on Sunday in a neighborhood on Chicago’s Southwest Side, and a 17-year-old Ohio boy gunned down by a friend early Tuesday morning after the two of them got into an argument.
Elsewhere, flying bullets left children unscathed but nonetheless shaken. On Thursday in Atlanta, gunfire caused a scare outside a preschool graduation ceremony. Police said two men were arguing over a child-custody matter nearby when one of them opened fire.
“Children were crying,” a state lawmaker who delivered the commencement speech told The Atlanta Journal Constitution.
“I just pray that their young minds somehow forget that as they left their pre-K graduation, there was gunfire waiting for them on the other side of the door.”