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Prosecutors decline to charge students who helped boy after Gardena High shooting

January 20, 2011 |  4:54 pm

Prosecutors on Thursday declined to file criminal charges against two Gardena High School students accused of aiding a 17-year-old student suspected of carrying a handgun that discharged, striking two students and critically wounding one.

The students, a 16-year-old girl and 15-year-old boy, were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of aiding the suspected gunman after he fled the classroom. Authorities said the girl took the suspect's backpack and the boy gave him his sweatshirt and money for bus fare to flee the campus.

Ultimately, prosecutors determined that there was not enough evidence to charge the students, said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

The decision came the same day as the student suspected of carrying the handgun was charged with two felonies: possessing a firearm in a school zone and discharging a firearm in a school zone.

The suspect, whose name is being withheld because of his age, was on probation for a misdemeanor battery charge, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Joanne Baeza. Prosecutors have filed a motion to have the minor tried as an adult.

The teenager allegedly carried a loaded 9-millimeter Beretta in his backpack to school Tuesday. When he reached inside the backpack to get something to eat, the gun discharged a single round in a classroom about 10:40 a.m., authorities said.

The bullet struck a 15-year-old boy in the neck before hitting a 15-year-old girl in the side of the head, officials said.

The girl remains in critical condition at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center with a skull fracture and brain trauma. A spokeswoman for the hospital said she has been able to respond to basic commands.

The male victim was released from the hospital late Wednesday.

-- Andrew Blankstein


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