Cochise County AZ Jan 12 2018
The Cochise County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday a 14-year-old boy shot himself with a family member's firearm inside an elementary school bathroom in southern Arizona.
Sheriff Mark Dannels said in a news release that investigators recovered the weapon in Tuesday's shooting from the bathroom at Coronado Elementary School, located between the towns of Hereford and Sierra Vista. The school serves about 460 students from kindergarten through eighth grade.
The boy hasn't been publicly identified. The sheriff notified the victim's family.
"The Cochise County Sherriff's Office thoughts and prayers remain with the 14-year-old victim and his family as well as the staff and students of Coronado Elementary School," the statement said. "The investigation in the case indicates this incident was a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound by the 14-year-old 8th grader."
School officials clarified in a statement the boy was a seventh-grader.
Counselors are at the school for students and staff, the sheriff said, to help them cope with the incident.
During a news conference on Tuesday, the sheriff declined to characterize the shooting as a suicide until the investigation proved it otherwise, according to a video recording posted on the Sierra Vista Herald/Review website.
A spokeswoman said Wednesday the shooting was not accidental.
The shooting had been reported about 9:21 a.m. as an active shooter, the sheriff said. As a result, both local and federal law enforcement officers arrived at the school to secure the campus, Dannels said.
When deputies searched the campus, they found the boy on a bathroom floor with a gunshot wound, the sheriff said.
The school is in the Palominas Elementary School District, which serves about 950 students and is near the U.S.-Mexico border.
"Our hearts go out to the family as they grieve during this time of great loss," the school district said in a statement posted on its Facebook page. "At this time, we have no information to share on the needs of the family, but will update our community if this changes."
Carol Capas, the spokeswoman for the Cochise County Sheriff's Office, said that deputies are still going through evidence and she couldn't say if they have found a suicide note.
She said the Sheriff's Office is withholding the boy's identity until the investigation is complete.
No charges are pending against the family member who owns the gun, she said.
Capas said the Sheriff's Office hasn't investigated a case like this in recent memory, but she referred to a murder-suicide case 18 years ago that rocked the city of Sierra Vista.
In May 2000, Glen Quatacker, 39, shot his estranged wife, Tammy Quatacker, 36, at a preschool where the woman worked. Police at the time said he forced his wife into a bathroom, where he shot his wife before shooting himself.
The husband had been stalking his wife and the couple had been going through a divorce, police said.