A 12-year-old boy was shot and killed by another student at a middle school in South Carolina on Thursday, authorities said.
Officials were alerted to the shooting at 12:23 p.m. when a school resource officer at Tanglewood Middle School requested "emergency backup" after hearing gunfire, the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
According to the sheriff's office, a 12-year-old boy shot another 12-year-old student in a wing of the school building and then fled the area. The victim, identified by family as Jamari Cortez Bonaparte Jackson, was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. The other boy was taken into custody about an hour later after deputies found him hiding underneath a deck about two miles away. A handgun was recovered from the boy, the sheriff's office said.
"We are all devastated by today’s tragedy," Jackson's family said in a statement provided by the Greenville-based organization Fighting Injustice Together. "We love Jamari dearly and we would ask that our privacy be respected as we grieve during this very difficult time."
A motive is still under investigation, but the sheriff's office said the two boys were "familiar with each other" and that it appeared the incident was isolated. No one else was injured in the shooting.
"It's a senseless tragedy and unfortunately one that occurs all too often in today’s society where people perhaps resort to violence," Greenville County Schools Superintendent Burke Royster said during a press conference. "And it has a lasting impact on all those that are in proximity to it."
Officials said the school was immediately placed on lockdown after the reports of gunfire. Students were later evacuated and taken to a local church, where they were reunited with their families.
Kelvin, a sixth-grader at the school, told Fox Carolina he was hiding in the cafeteria when police arrived.
“I was just scared,” Kelvin said. “I didn’t know what to do and then the police came in. I thought it was one of the shooters.”
The alleged shooter is facing one count of murder and several weapons charges, including possession of a weapon by a person under the age of 18, the sheriff's office said. The boy, who has not been named because he is a minor, is being transported to the Department of Juvenile Justice in Columbia, South Carolina.
Greenville County Sheriff Hobart Lewis said in a statement that his "heart breaks" for the victim's family and that he would also be praying for the boy who allegedly pulled the trigger and his family.
"I can not fathom what would cause someone to do this to another human being and especially at that age, but I know it’s a situation where we all need to turn to God," Lewis said.