RICHFIELD, Minn. (AP) — One student was killed and another critically injured in a shooting Tuesday afternoon near the front entrance to a suburban Minneapolis school, police said.
Police Chief Jay Henthorne said the students were shot outside South Education Center in Richfield, a suburb just south of Minneapolis. The surviving student was in critical condition at a local hospital. Henthorne said suspects fled and police searched the area.
“This is a tragic day in the city of Richfield,” he said. He gave no other details on the students.
South Education Center has about 200 students, according to its website, which describes it as a school that offers special education programs and an alternative high school, with students as young as prekindergarten. It is part of District 287, which provides services to 11 school districts across the Minneapolis area as well as some students from other districts.
District 287 Superintendent Sandra Lewandowski said the students were shot near the school’s front entrance. She said parents and students were being reunited Tuesday afternoon.
“There are no words to describe the bravery exhibited by our staff at SEC and local authorities today,” Lewandowski said. “No one should ever have to respond to a tragedy like this and we commit to supporting staff, students, and family well-being as they recover from this incident.”
Family friend Damik Bryant identified the student killed as Jamari Rice, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. Kris Pulford, the head football coach at Richfield High School, where Rice played as a freshman and as a sophomore this past season, told the newspaper that it was Rice’s second day at South.
“When he had things going, he was very intense, a very positive kid,” Pulford said of Rice. “He stood up for his buddies, and he loved the game of football.”
Pulford said Rice had switched schools “just so he could find a place where he can be successful. Jamari had heart. He was a good kid.”
The Star Tribune reported that police had been called to South Education Center in September after a male student brought a gun in his backpack. Students alerted school staff. No one was hurt in that incident.
Spokeswoman Rachel Hicks told the newspaper then that South had phased out metal detectors at school entrances. The district had also in recent years removed school resource officers and replaced them with student safety coaches to focus on building relationships and working on mental health issues, Hicks told the newspaper.