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Schools

Two arrested after shot fired at Tampa high school

By JUSTIN GEORGE
Published June 7, 2007


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TAMPA -- Someone fired a shot into Middleton High School just after noon Wednesday, aiming at a student but missing, police said.

Teens learning algebra in Room 214 jumped out of the first-floor window.

The bullet pierced the relaxed summer school atmosphere at the east Tampa school and sent the campus into a 45-minute lockdown.

The gates were closed, and the students were ordered to stay in their classrooms. More than 20 Tampa police officers descended upon the scene within three minutes, searching every classroom, according to students and police.

Police think the gunfire grew out of a disagreement a week ago between the shooter and the intended victim, Octavious Laundry, 17.

Four males rode in a green sedan through an open side gate along E Wilder Avenue. They fought with Laundry and a second student, police said.

When one of them pulled out a handgun, Laundry and his friend ran inside the hallway of Building 200. A pursuer fired one round from a small- caliber handgun, piercing the building's glass door, missing Laundry and other students, and leaving a thigh-high small hole in the door.

Witnesses saw three flee afterward, police said, which first led them to believe there were only three suspects. Two armed school resource officers were at the school, and security was as tight as it would have been on a normal school day, school district spokesman Stephen Hegarty said.

Late Wednesday, police arrested 17-year-old Ariel Cruz, 4106 N 15th St. in Tampa, naming him as the shooter and charging him with aggravated assault. They also arrested a 16-year-old on a charge of tresspassing on school property after his mother turned him in.

Both boys were loaded into a police cruiser after midnight, following hours of questioning at TPD headquarters. Sgt. Bill Todd said neither of the boys were presently enrolled at Middleton.

Police were still searching for the other two suspects, one of whom they believe stayed in the car while the others ran to the school.

Police spokeswoman Laura McElroy did not release names or detailed descriptions but said they wore black T-shirts.

Typically, more than 1, 800 students attend Middleton. On Wednesday, about 200 were enrolled in summer programs.

Asked what the fight was about, Todd said that still wasn't clear, though the feud has been going on for some time: "Nobody seems to have a definitive answer as to what it was over."

[Last modified June 7, 2007, 01:19:35]


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