GRAHAM, Wash. – A 17-year-old suspect was taken into custody Tuesday night in connection with the shooting of two 16-year-old male students outside Graham-Kapowsin High School earlier in the day. Photos of two others still being sought and the alleged getaway car were released by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.
In the shooting earlier, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said one student was found in the parking lot by the high school football field and another was found in a locker room. Shots were reportedly fired on the Eustis Hunt Rd. side of the campus.
Deputies said the shooting occurred just off school grounds, and the victims ran back onto campus.
There was no immediate word on the students’ conditions, but both were sent to Tacoma General Hospital. Sheriff's detective Ed Troyer said the boys were expected to survive.
The sheriff’s office said the suspects were described as multiple black males, and that they fled in a green vehicle, possibly a Chevy Impala. Deputies were actively sweeping the school grounds, but said there was no indication the suspects were on campus.
Deputies said the shooting might be gang-related.
Graham-Kapowsin High, Nelson Elementary and Frontier Middle School were all placed in in lockdown in the immediate aftermath, and Eatonville School District was placed in temporary modified lockdown as a precaution because of proximity to the high school. Students at Graham Elementary were released to their bus with staff supervision, and all after-school activities at the Graham-Kapowsin High School and Frontier were cancelled.
Deputies were securing the campus, and said the students in lockdown were safe.
On Tuesday night, the Bethel School District sent the following letter to all parents:
"At approximately 2:30 p.m. today, 30 minutes after school was dismissed, there was a shooting near the Graham-Kapowsin High School campus. The shooting stemmed from an altercation between a group of individuals outside of the school. Two students who were injured in the shooting made their way onto the Graham-Kapowsin campus for help.
"Graham-Kapowsin High School, Frontier Middle School, Graham Elementary School, and Nelson Elementary School were immediately placed in lockdown while Pierce County Deputies searched for the shooters. As a precaution and a part of the investigation, deputies searched the entire campus as well as inside Graham-Kapowsin High School.
"At 3 p.m., Graham Elementary was taken off of lockdown and students were released according to normal end-of-the-day dismissal procedures. The Pierce County Sheriff's Department directed the district to remain in lockdown at Graham-Kapowsin High School, Frontier Middle School, and Nelson Elementary until they were able to secure the area. Once the area was secured, and schools were taken out of lockdown by the sheriff’s department, parents were allowed access to the three schools to pick up their students and buses were dispatched to take remaining students home.
"School at all three sites will follow a normal schedule tomorrow, Wednesday, December 6. Please remember that tomorrow is a scheduled late start in the district.
"Graham-Kapowsin High School will have extra security on hand tomorrow, as well as additional counselors. Students who left bags in classrooms will be allowed to collect them at the beginning of first period.
"We wish to thank the Pierce County Sheriff's Department for their quick response and continued investigation of this very serious incident, and to parents for their patience. Our primary concern is always for the safety of our students and staff."
Bethel School District released a statement Tuesday afternoon:
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and students involved with this shooting today. This is a scary situation and we are proud of how our staff, students and families have been and are still reacting to it. We have been assured that students still on campus are safe. We are following direction from the Pierce County Sheriff's Department and are relying on them for additional information at this point."