Student Found Dead from Gunshot Wound at Coronado Elementary
Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels says the student’s shooting death is being investigated as a homicide until proven otherwise.
Jan. 11 Update: Authorities now say the student found dead had shot himself with a family member’s firearm. The seventh grade boy has not been identified.
The shooting death of a 14-year-old student at Coronado Elementary School in Hereford, Ariz., is being investigated as a homicide.
According to the Cochise County Sheriff’s Department, the school originally called to report an active shooter at approximately 9:20 a.m. When deputies arrived, they found the male student dead in the bathroom and a weapon was recovered.
Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels said deputies from his office, Sierra Vista police, Border Patrol agents, Department of Public Safety troopers, fire departments and personnel from other law enforcement agencies responded to the incident.
A Facebook post from neighboring Sierra Vista Unified School District indicated the student died by suicide. However, an hour later, the post was updated and the line calling it a suicide was removed, reports ABC 15.
Dannels says he will not characterize the shooting as a suicide until the investigation is complete.
“It’s a homicide until proven otherwise. We want to make sure we share facts with you. We’re not ruling suicide until the investigation and the facts state that,” he said during a press conference.
A mass text and phone calls were sent out to parents between 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. and a helicopter was seen circling around the school, according to My Herald Review.
Deputies cleared the school for possible threats and students were escorted to waiting buses at around 10:30 a.m. They were taken to Sierra Springs Church in Hereford where parents were directed to pick them up.
Parent Edna Lepley says she was notified by the school about the lockdown and showed up to the church to pick up her two children.
“I saw how many officials were there and all the law enforcement and that’s when I realized this is something serious,” Lepley said.
Palominas Elementary School District Superintendent Marylotti Copeland said classes will resume Wednesday and counselors are on hand for students and staff.
Copeland also praised law enforcement for their efforts and for keeping the younger students from realizing a tragedy had occurred.
“Our little guys didn’t even know a tragedy had happened. They thought they got to hang out with cops today and that’s all they knew,” she said. “For our older students it’s going to be much harder and we’re going to be there for them.”
The 14-year-old was a student at the school, which serves about 460 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the suicide rate for children between ages 10 and 14 has doubled from 2007 to 2014.
The Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office will conduct the autopsy.
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