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Eyewitness describes Gardena High School shooting

A Gardena High senior who was sitting next to students who were shot described a scene of chaos and fear inside the classroom when gunfire erupted Tuesday morning.

Miguel Lopez, 17, said he was in his health class when a gun went off as a male classmate was reaching into his backpack. The student, whose name Lopez did not know, was not pointing the gun at anyone, he said.

Two students sitting next to him in the rear corner of the room were shot, Lopez said. A boy was grazed in the shoulder. A 15-year-old girl next to him was shot in the temple.

"I'm scared and I don't know what's going on," Lopez told the Los Angeles Times by cellphone. Lopez was sitting with classmates inside the dean's office, where they had been escorted by security after the shooting.

Immediately after the gun went off, he said, the student ran out of the classroom. His teacher, Mrs. Jones, began screaming, he said. She ordered everyone out of the classroom just as school security was arriving.

As Lopez was running out, he saw the girl, who school officials said is in critical condition at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

"She kind of was crying. She fell back into her chair and fell on the floor," he said.

Lopez called his mother, in tears.

"He was all freaked out," said his older brother, Hector Lopez, 20, who was waiting outside Gardena High School. "He was traumatized. He saw the girl who was shot in the head. I told him to relax, to calm down, to stay away from whatever's going on."

Miguel Lopez said, "I'm shaken up and I'm worried. Right now, it's a weird quiet inside the dean's office. No one knows what's going on. … I don't even know what to say."

LAUSD spokeswoman Lydia Ramos confirmed Lopez's account, noting that the student did not open fire. Rather, he came to school with a gun in his backpack. When he placed the backpack on a table in his health class, the gun went off. He ran out of the classroom, with his backpack, she said. He dropped the backpack with the gun in it, then hid in another classroom before being taken into custody.


Photos: Gardena High School shooting

Suspect in Gardena High School shooting surrenders; students in classroom safe

Alleged student gunman holed up in Gardena High School classroom; students hit in head, neck

-- Sam Allen in Gardena and Andrew Blankstein

Comments () | Archives (39)

gun laws DO NOT work.

first of all you must be 21 to purchase a handgun. that didn't prevent this kid from having one.

Gun free school zones- its illegal to have a unsecured firearm with 1000 feet of any school. yep that didn't prevent this kid from bringing a loaded firearm onto school grounds either.

California "safe" Handgun roster is supposed to protect its citizens from "unsafe" handguns. if in fact this gun "just went off" that law also failed to protect those two 15 year olds from being shot today.

Gun laws are a waste of time. They only control those who obey them (responsible gun owners). And hinder those who obey them from having a leg up to defend themselves from the criminal element that can be in possession of any firearm they like including full autos at anytime they please.

More gun laws = more potential victims.

Just know your facts before you point fingers. I feel for everyone that is involved in this. My prayers go out to the family.

Why do we need guns? To protect ourselves. Simple. The police cannot be everywhere all the time, and they have no obligation to protect an individual. According to courts it is a "fundamental principle of American law that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any individual citizen." Therefore, the police have no obligation to protect me or my family, so when there are criminals walking around with guns, the people need guns to protect themselves from the criminals. Remember, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away. In Great Britain, they enacted a total ban on handguns in 1997. From 1997 to 2003, HAND GUN related crime rose 46%. The gun related crime rate has risen steadily every year since 1997 in GB. EVERY YEAR. So if there are less guns, why is the number of crimes involving hand guns rising? Because when the law abiding citizens are unable to protect themselves, they are easy targets for the criminals. When you outlaw guns, only outlaws have guns, and law abiding citizens are easy targets for the criminals. Therefore, stricter gun laws only make it easier for criminals to take advantage of citizens. That, in a nutshell, is why the public needs guns.

Secuirty, police, metal detectors, etc. don't make a school safer. I've been to a number of schools when I was younger. How much involvement the school has with parents makes a huge difference. The schools that don't involve parents have more crime. I was lucky to go to a school in Torrance and there rarely was any violence. My brother now attends LA High School where violence is an everyday thing. In Torrance, parents are required to be involved. Whenever my mother came to the school, they welcomed her. In LA High school, I tried to make a phone call regarding my brothers academics and was yelled at. They are unwelcoming of parents. Make a strong community of parents, teachers, and administrators and much of the problem of violence will be resolved.

Hoorah to the NRA, the National Rifle (Republican) Association. Thanks to all of the guns in the street. The right to bear arms, whether legal or illegal sources of guns goes with the gun rights. Yes we need more guns, pack it baby! Guns have one sole purpose, to kill. not? Ok, maim, disable, destroyer of life. I said my piece. Peace to mankind, yeah, how can it with too many guns around. The cost of freedom, and let no one take it away from you.

No mother should have to bury their child, this is a loss of the worst kind, the kind you don't wish on your worst enemy. This makes my child's $600 a month tuition at Serra worth every penny. My God.

If this school is located in a dangerous neighborhood, then the school should take proper safety precautions and DO BACKPACK CHECKS!!! Parents, I recommend homeschooling your kids.

I have read most comment left here and I sure am sad that this happen. Who wouldn't.

As an alumni to Gardena High, class of 2000 I wouldn't ever thought this would happen in this time.

Before Gardena High was a menace, But we are all speaking without knowing facts.

Gangs, Gun, Neighborhood area, Population class has nothing to do with it.

It never states that the shooter or the victims where involve in gangs.

What we all should do is go into our kids room and search the crab out of them.

We should take the time to one day follow their steps and know what secrets they have and who they hang out with.

We have to take the time to go to their school and request a visitors pass and attend to every class the take.

We need to know who our kids are.

I bet the parents of the shooter would come out with the excuse that "our son is a good kid" or "we don't know where he got a gun from"

It is things like this that many parents dont know about. I know cause I was a young student once and did many things my parents didn't even know about.

You dont have to be 21 to buy a gun .. what kind of ignorant people are here in this world.

I could of buy an UZZY for just 200buck.. I can get an AK for 500 bucks.. Dont you all know this. Cops know this aswell but what can they do. NOTHING.

They are not the ones who see this going on. IT is us the civilians that get to see all this crimes and decide to stay quiet and not do nothing about it..

WE ALL NEED TO STEP UP AnD stop Blaming gangs, or races about the problems of the world..

What a touching story. I feel for the shooter and the 2 students my heart go out to them. Its so much going on in the world today its crazy. I worry bout how things will be when my kids grow up... all this madness needs to come to an end. that boy was fearing for his life when he had to leave school after being bullied so he needed it for protection, which was the wrong way to sek out help

this is why gun law hysteria won't work. this 15-17 year old would not be eligible to get a gun under current law! why would new gun laws stop him from getting a gun? enforce what laws we have now.

We do not know enough about this incident to have a valid opinion of how the gun happened to go off. It extremely unlikely, to the point of incredibility, that the gun went off without the trigger having been pulled. Modern handguns almost all have mechanism which would prevent this. Until we learn the make and model of the gun involved, we engage in idle speculation

I think gun nut lobby would say EVERYONE should have be armed in that classroom. You know, because the more guns the merrier.

I attended Gardena High school my senior year and graduated from there. It was the worst experience of my life. I previously attended West Torrance and I was having problems at home so I moved to Fresno and finished my 11th grade semester there. I moved back in time for senior year and found out that West is no longer accepting permits as my residence was in Gardena. I fought so hard to stay out of there but found I had no other option. I knew some kids in younger grades but didn't know anyone in my own grade. It was tough being that I am a white girl going to an all black/hispanic school. But that was the least of my worries. I got along great with everyone and am a very social person. I realized a couple weeks of attending there that the education level for my grade was way beneath my level of education I had already had. I thought it was really sad. My whole senior year it was pretty easy and had no senior projects like the rest of my friends in Torrance schools. There were many riots that the school was put on lock down for which I had never experienced anything like that and all the kids there seemed to think it was normal. It was pretty scary but I stuck through it. It was always racial or gang related. I was so happy to get out of there. I graduated in 2006 and I had a lot of younger kids that went there that had no motivation in even coming to school. I really think that parents should be boycotting this school and not allow their kids to go to Gardena High. I don't think that the school is doing anything in protecting the students and don't plan on fixing all the gang violence and racial issues that go on in the school. Not to mention all the drugs as some people here have already stated. I think parents need to get more involved with that staff and faculty and be aware of what their kids are going though. I don't think even half the parents know what its like at that high school as soon as they drop their kid off and say goodbye. It sickens me that this isn't even the first tie a shooting has happened here either. I knew one of the victims and its showed me that maybe I need to do more about this issue and help this community. I too agree that this school, yet every school either in a gang community or not have metal detectors and "wanding" going on everyday and have only one entrance to the school.... maybe start school a little later if we notice it takes longer. I think schools need to make it safe again for students to come in and not worry if they will get shot or not. Also when I attended there I never saw anyone get wanded and there are many entrances into this school that they should think about eliminating them all and only allowing one. Parents please get involved and be more aware and BOYCOTT Gardena High. It is never been a safe school!!

I can't help thinking how unlikely (if not outright impossible) this sort of thing would be if the average citizen only had access to rifles rather than handguns.

The article doesn't specify, but it's a reasonable bet that this kid got the gun from his negligent parents. We no longer have to fear being shot by criminals - you have much more to worry about with your law abiding neighbors.

Again, we (the public) routinely, repeatedly demonstrate that we absolutely cannot be trusted with the responsibility of handgun owenership. They should be reserved for law enforcement and military personnel only.

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