RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) - A shot was fired Thursday on the grounds of a suburban Albuquerque high school on the anniversary of the Parkland, Florida, high school massacre, but police and school officials said no one was injured and a suspect was in custody.
The V. Sue Cleveland High School in the community of Rio Rancho was evacuated just before school began, police said, and worried parents rushed to the school after getting calls from their children. More than 2,500 students attend the high school.
Rio Rancho Police Chief Stewart Steele said that a male student suspected of using a handgun to fire the shot before school started had been taken into custody and was being questioned by authorities. Steele said investigators still haven't determined a motive.
While there were no injuries and students at the school were quickly evacuated, the episode still sent shockwaves through the sprawling suburb north of New Mexico's largest city, Steele said.
"It was extremely scary," Steele said. "We just thank God it ended the way it did."
He said the student, who has not been identified by authorities, had fled the school after opening fire and left the weapon behind. The student was spotted by police 30 minutes after the shooting in dry wash near the school, Steele said.
He was caught running away, Steele said.
The shooting occurred around 7 a.m. before school was scheduled to start. Police believe the shot had been fired inside a hallway but didn't know if the shooter has pointed a gun at anyone.
Rio Rancho Superintendent V. Sue Cleveland, whose name dons the high school, said at least two students witnessed the gunshot. "They are doing as well as expected," she said.
School officials said on Twitter that all students were safe, and the district's other schools were open. They did not know when classes would resume.
Kristy Berberich said outside the high school that her 16-year-old son called her immediately after students heard a gunshot.
"I was worried sick but I knew he was safe," she said.
Police and school officials advised parents to stay away from the school and to await word on a plan to pick up students, who were taken to an arena about 3 miles (5 kilometers) from the school.
The episode comes as thousands of students and others planned a moment of silence to remember the 14 students and three staff members killed last Valentine's Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the deadliest high school shooting in the nation's history.
That tragedy - along with a deadly shooting at New Mexico's Aztec High School in December 2017 - is helping to fuel debate in the state Legislature over an ambitious slate of bills related to firearms and school safety.
The arrival in January of a Democratic governor to succeed a pro-gun rights Republican has opened the door to calls for broader background checks on private gun sales and initiatives to remove firearms from the hands of people who may be suicidal or seen as a danger to others.
The gun-seizure measure was passed by the Democrat-led House late Wednesday following an emotionally charged debate. Outside the House chamber, about 30 high-school aged students gathered in the Capitol rotunda to mark the anniversary of the Parkland massacre. They received praise from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for pushing peacefully for new gun-safety regulations.
Additional initiatives would ensure teachers cannot carry firearms at schools and expand child neglect laws to encompass the secure storage of household firearms.
Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf said the episode reinforces the need for gun safety reforms and infrastructure spending to secure schools.
In Rio Rancho, school buses shuttled students to the nearby event center as police cordoned off the school and blocked roads leading to the campus. While no details were immediately released about the suspect in custody or the circumstances of the gunshot, police planned a briefing later Thursday.
Associated Press writers Paul Davenport in Phoenix, Mary Hudetz in Albuquerque and Morgan Lee in Santa Fe contributed to this report.
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