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Gardena shooting victims 'fortunate' to be alive; girl still in critical condition after surgery

January 18, 2011 |  5:22 pm

The two students shot in a Gardena High School classroom shooting are recovering at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, but surgeons said it was too early to predict the extent of the injuries to a 15-year-old girl who was shot in the head -– the most seriously injured of the two students.

The midmorning shooting, which police said happened when a gun a student was carrying in his backpack discharged, left the classmates injured when they were hit by a single round of gunfire. Surgeons said it appeared that a single bullet struck a 15-year-old boy in the neck and then hit the girl on the left side of her skull.

Dr. James Ausman, who heads a team of surgeons at the hospital, said the extent of the girl’s injuries likely would not be known until Wednesday, when doctors can determine whether she can speak or move her arms and legs. The left side of the brain controls speech and motor movement on the right side of the body.

Dr. Gail Anderson Jr., the chief medical officer at the Torrance medical center, said the bullet fractured but did not puncture the girl’s skull  and that the energy from the bullet caused trauma to the brain. The girl remains in critical condition.

The boy, Anderson said, was in far better condition and was able to talk and move his limbs freely. Anderson said the boy’s family had been at the hospital since mid-morning and that the girl’s family was en route to the hospital.

“The fact that they’re alive is both fortunate ... we don’t know what the outcome is going to be,” said Anderson.


Photos: Gardena High School shooting

Anxious students undergo weapons search at Gardena High

Boy shot at Gardena High is on track team, excels in sports

-- Jeff Gottlieb and Howard Blume

Photo: Harbor-UCLA Medical Center's Dr. James Ausman, right, and surgeons who cared for Gardena High School shooting victims talk to the media on Jan. 18, 2011. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times