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Gardena High student had brought gun to school previously for protection, friend says [Updated]

January 18, 2011 |  2:32 pm

The Gardena High School student who police believe accidentally discharged a gun and wounded two other students had brought a weapon to campus “a couple times” before, one of his friends said Tuesday.

Andrea Tibbs, who described herself as a “good friend” of the student, said that he started bringing the gun to campus to protect himself after he had been in a fight outside of school –- an incident, she said, that made him fear for his safety.

Imami Moses, another classmate who knows the student, said, “I saw him today. It was just a normal day. He’s always been nice to me. He’s always been cool.”

The two students were injured when the gun discharged about 10:40 a.m. One girl was shot in the head, and is in grave condition at a hospital. The other victim, a boy, was wounded in the neck. [Updated 2:50 p.m. Tuesday: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said the boy was wounded in the shoulder.] According to Robert Alaniz, an LAUSD spokesman, the gun discharged when a 10th grade boy either dropped or bumped the backpack containing the weapon.

Sources told The Times that after the gun went off, the student who brought it to school apologized to his classmates before running out of the classroom.

He surrendered to police in a dramatic end to a standoff.

Officials let students out of the high school, at 1301 W. 182nd St., around 2 p.m.

L.A. Unified Police Chief Steve Zipperman said, “It appears to be a possible accidental discharge.” He thinks the gun could have accidentally gone off. When asked about how the gun could have gotten past the school’s metal detectors, Zipperman said officials were looking into how the backpack got into the school. [Updated, 3:45 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified Zipperman as an LAPD captain.]

Tibbs, the student, said that more needs to be done to make Gardena High safer.

“This school is crazy,” she said. “It’s just too much. Honestly, we should have searches all the time. There are a couple students here who come here with guns.”


Photos: Gardena High School shooting

Worried parents call for more security at Gardena High

Eyewitness recounts Gardena High shooting on Twitter: 'I’m freaked out'

-- Sam Allen and Andrew Blankstein