By JUAN A. LOZANO and JAKE BLEIBERG Associated Press
HOUSTON (AP) – A 16-year-old student mistakenly shot his friend in his Houston high school ROTC room before he fled and was arrested a few hours later, officials said on Wednesday.
The two were in a Bellaire High School room with four other students, but without an adult Tuesday afternoon, when the 16-year-old pulled a semi-automatic pistol from his waistband and pulled the trigger. 19-year-old Cesar Cortes died in the process. said Lt. Greg Bartlett.
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The suspect, whose name was not released, fled the scene after the shots and was arrested about 3 1/2 hours later, the authorities said. According to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, he was charged with manslaughter as a minor.
District Attorney Kim Ogg said the shootout does not appear to have been intentional based on the evidence gathered to date. She said the students were part of the school’s ROTC program and there was no evidence that they had fought before shooting.
“You were friendly. They were friends, ”said Ogg. “It is an intentional act to pull a trigger on a weapon, whether it is loaded or not. But based on the evidence we have now, he did not intend to kill his friend.”
Bartlett said the gunman confessed to other students, but did not blame the police or assist in the investigation.
The authorities are still looking for the gun that Bartlett says the student brought from home. It was neither owned by the school nor issued by the ROTC, he said.
“This is obviously a normal child who is now a violent perpetrator,” said Ogg about the shooter. “Whether he wanted to be violent or not, he killed someone. And that someone was a son, a student, and a friend, and that’s the collective loss of our church. “
The police said they received a call about the shootout around 4:00 p.m. and that the victim later died in a hospital.
The district canceled classes on Wednesday, but they will continue on Thursday with other police officers patrolling the campus.
Bleiberg reported from Dallas. AP employee Nomaan Merchant reported from Bellaire, Texas.