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Five injured in Cleveland school shooting


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MSNBC staff and news service reports

CLEVELAND - A gunman opened fire in a downtown high school on Wednesday, and five people were taken to a hospital, the mayor said.

The suspected shooter, a 14-year-old male student, was killed after the rampage by an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.

Mayor Frank Jackson later said SuccessTech Academy had been secured. "We have no reason to believe there's more than one suspect," Jackson told reporters gathered outside the school.

Jackson said a 57-year-old teacher and 42-year-old male were in stable condition; a 17-year-old male has been treated for a gunshot wound in the elbow and will soon be released; and a 14-year-old male, who was shot in the side, appears stable. A 14-year-old girl was also treated for an injured elbow.

At least three victims were taken to MetroHealth Center, WKYC reported. One shooting victim was taken to Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, WOIO-TV reported.

The student identified as the shooter by students at the school had been suspended Monday for fighting, said Charles Blackwell, president of SuccessTech's student-parent organization. School officials said the suspect was not supposed to be at school that day.

The school's security guard was on vacation, WKYC reported, and two other full-time security guards had been laid off in recent years.

Parents wait anxiously

Following the shooting, students stood outside the building, many in tears, hugging each other and on cell phones; others shouted at reporters with TV cameras to leave them alone. Family members also stood outside, anxiously waiting for their children to be released.

Student Doneisha LeVert, who hid in a closet with two other students after she heard the principal say "Code Blue" over the public address system, said the alleged shooter had threatened students at the school last Friday.

"He's crazy. He threatened to blow up our school. He threatened to stab everybody," she said.

Rasheem Smith, 15, said he misunderstood the sound of the gunfire at first but then realized there was a shooting and told his classmates to flee down the stairs.

"I heard gunshots but I just thought someone was banging a book on the desk," Smith said after emerging from the adjacent FBI offices where students were sent after the shooting.

"At first I thought there was nobody shot. I was laughing at first, but then when I came to reality and knew they got shot, I was mad and sad at the same time."

'He was aiming at me'

Ronnell Jackson, 15, said he saw a shooter running down the hall and ducked out the door.

"He was about to shoot me but I got out just in time," he said. "He was aiming at me ... I got out just in time."

Tammy Mundy, 38, who has a son and daughter at the school, told The Plain Dealer of Cleveland that her daughter called when the shooting started.

"She said, 'Mom they're shooting in here, kids are running out, I'm hiding in the closet,"' Mundy told the newspaper.

Then she called her 18-year-old son, Darnell Rodgers, on his cell phone, and he told her he had been shot in the arm.

"He said, 'Mom, I got shot,"' Mundy told the newspaper.

Rodgers' girlfriend, 17-year-old Lateisha Riddlehill, who hid in a bathroom during the shootings, confirmed that Rodgers had been shot in the elbow. She said he told her he was going to be fine.

Police shut down several nearby roads because of the shooting, WKYC reported.

The shooting occurred across the street from the FBI office in downtown Cleveland, and students were being sent to the FBI site.

School was cancelled Thursday for the entire Cleveland Municipal School District, said Eugene Sanders, the district's CEO.

'Just panic'

Cleveland resident April Hardin, who works next door to the high school where the shooting occurred, told msnbc.com that she returned from her lunch break to find chaos.

"When I got from my car to the building, I saw a group of girls kind of backing away, and they were like, 'I'm not going back in there, I'm not going back in there,'" said Hardin, who is 7 1/2 months pregnant.

Fire trucks and police filled the area, Hardin said. "They said, 'Just stay at your desk, there's been a shooting.' It was pretty scary."

Hardin and her co-workers then watched the scene through the windows of their offices at Cleveland's Ampco System Parking. Students were "sitting on the fence crying," Hardin said. "It was just panic."

Alternative school

SuccessTech Academy is an alternative high school in the Cleveland district. The school has about 240 students, most of them blacks with a small number of whites and Hispanics. All the students are poor under federal poverty guidelines.

The school has an academic rating of continuous improvement, in the middle of the state's ratings for how well students perform. Its graduation rate is 94 percent, well above the district's rate of 55 percent.

The school emphasizes entrepreneurship by teaming teachers with local business owners to teach students about the business world.


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