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Subject: Four Students Shot, One Killed, at High School; Two People Being Questioned

New Orleans
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Date Posted: April 14, 2003 4:19:24 EDT

A gunman shot and killed a student and wounded three others Monday at a New Orleans high school, police said.

Chief Eddie Compass said the three were not believed to have life-threatening wounds. The gunman apparently slipped into the neighborhood surrounding John McDonogh High School and was being sought by officers, Compass said.

Two people were taken in for questioning but they were not called suspects.

"Our tactical units have swept all the buildings. The children are completely safe," Compass said.

Students were ordered to stay in their classrooms after the shooting around 10:30 a.m.

There was no immediate word on possible motive or how the gun got through metal detectors and guards at the school.

Anthony Amato, school system superintendent who has been on the job only since February, tried to calm parents but was heckled with cries of "where was the guard?"

One of the students, a 15-year-old girl, was in surgery at the Medical Center of Louisiana with more than one wound, spokesman Jerry Romig said. Two other girls, both 16, were wounded in the leg or buttocks. The identity of the dead student, a boy, was not immediately released.

Ninth-grader Garick Jacob, 14, said he was in the gym when it happened.

"Somebody pulled out a gun," he said. "They started shooting and I started running." He said he did not see the shooting but it sounded like about 30 shots, adding, "I was really scared."

John McDonogh High is in the Mid-City neighborhood, about a mile north of the French Quarter on Esplanade Avenue. The school is one-block from the Degas House, where the French painter Edgar Degas stayed with relatives when he visited New Orleans in the 1870s. It is now a bed-and-breakfast.

Traffic in the area was shut down, and hundreds of people gathered outside, some of them crying. Parents were not allowed inside.

Darlene Claiborn, a mother who rushed to the school, said her daughter called her from inside a classroom on a cell phone.

"How can this happen in a school?" she demanded. "They have guards in there. They're supposed to have security."

In another, unrelated campus shooting Monday, a gun went off in a Shreveport school - apparently accidentally - while one student was showing it to another, hitting the second boy in the stomach, police and school officials said. The student who brought the gun ran away; police were looking for him. The wounded student was in serious condition.

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