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Boy Shoots Classmate at School

November 20, 1999

DEMING, N.M. (AP) _ A boy dressed in camouflage shot and critically wounded a 13-year-old female classmate in the lobby of their middle school Friday.

The boy also pointed a pistol at the principal and assistant principal, who told him to ``stay cool,″ Superintendent Carlos Viramontes said. He was taken into custody shortly after the 12:45 p.m. shooting at Deming Middle School.

Araceli Tena was in critical condition at Thomason Hospital in El Paso, Texas, with a gunshot wound in the back of the head after being taken by ambulance to the hospital about 100 miles east of Deming, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Police refused to comment on the boy, also 13. No charges had been filed.

Viramontes said school officials had ``heard a lot of stories″ but knew of no motive for the shooting at the only middle school in the farming and ranching town of about 15,000 about 33 miles north of the Mexican border.

``Right now, the only relationship that we know of is the fact that they were students here at the middle school. ... We don’t know if there was any association between the victim and the suspect,″ Police Chief Michael Carillo said.

When police arrived at the school in response to a 911 call, they confronted the armed student in the lobby. They ordered him to put down the small-caliber pistol, and after about five minutes, he reluctantly put it down, Carillo said.

No other students were hurt, and only one shot was fired, he said.

Paden Vendreley, 12, said he heard the shot. ``I thought it was a balloon, so I kept on walking,″ he said in an interview. ``But then I turned around, and I saw a girl lying down on the floor.″

Sixth grader Anjelita Gonzales, also 12, said school officials yelled ``Code Red″ over the loudspeaker and the teacher locked the classroom door.

``They tried their best to calm us down. They put on movies and music; they gave us candy,″ she said.

After about an hour, police went from room to room saying the school was safe.

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