Sheriff says boy shoots deadly classmate, 12, in South Carolina

Authorities are investigating the fatal shooting of a 12-year-old student Thursday by a classmate at their South Carolina middle school.

The suspect, a 12-year-old boy whose name was not released, was arrested on murder and weapons charges in the shooting that took place around noon at Tanglewood Middle School in Greenville, SC, the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office said with an explanation. There were no other injuries.

The victim, Jamari Cortez Bonaparte Jackson, was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead just after 1 p.m., the Greenville County Coroner’s Office said in a statement. According to an autopsy performed on Friday, the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the chest.

What had led to the shooting and where the student got the pistol from was not clear on Friday. The two students, both in seventh grade, were familiar with each other, authorities said.

In a statement released by Fighting Injustice Together, a Greenville community group, Jamari’s relatives said they were devastated by the boy’s death.

“We love Jamari very much and ask that our privacy be respected as we grieve at this very difficult time,” his family said.

The sheriff’s office declined to answer questions about the investigation Friday.

Around 12:30 p.m. Thursday, a school resource officer called for backup after hearing gunshots at the school, the sheriff’s office said in its statement.

Authorities said they later learned that a student had at least once shot and killed another student in a wing of the school.

After the attack, sheriff’s deputies determined that the gunman had fled. Authorities learned that he was staying in a dormitory. When they arrived, they found him “hidden under a deck,” according to the statement. Deputies said they also seized a pistol.

The student was arrested and charged with murder, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, possession of a weapon on school property and unlawful possession of a weapon by a person under the age of 18, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

He was expected to be taken to the Juvenile Justice Department in Columbia, SC. It was not immediately clear on Friday whether the boy was charged as a child. In South Carolina, a person convicted of murder or pleads guilty to murder can face the death penalty or life imprisonment up to 30 years.

In his office’s statement, Sheriff Hobart Lewis said, “My heart breaks for this boy’s family and my prayers are with them.”

He added, “I will pray for the other boy who pulled the trigger and for his family.”

In a separate statement, Greenville County Schools Superintendent W. Burke Royster said of the victim, “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, classmates, school staff and everyone who knew this child.”

“This is an absolute tragedy,” he added, “and we will continue to do everything we can to support his family.”

The school was open Friday but there were no classes, said Tim Waller, a spokesman for the district.

“This is an opportunity to come together and process as a family,” he said. Grief and mental health counselors were at the school.

Like other schools in Greenville County, Tanglewood, which serves about 780 students in grades six through eight, does not have metal detectors.

“We’ve watched this before, and we’ll certainly watch this again,” he said. Mr Waller added that the best defense for keeping guns out of schools is for students to “see something, say something”. Sheriff says boy shoots deadly classmate, 12, in South Carolina

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