Greenville, SC – A 12-year-old boy is dead and his classmate is facing murder charges for gunning him down in the hallway of Tanglewood Middle School on Thursday.
The incident occurred in the 7th grade hallway of the middle school just before 12:30 p.m. on March 31, the Greenville News reported.
The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office said that 12-year-old Jamari Cortez Bonaparte Jackson was fatally shot by another student from Tanglewood Middle School.
After the gunfire erupted, a school resource officer responded to the scene and called for backup from local law enforcement, the Greenville News reported.
The shooter had already fled the area.
The Greenville County Coroner’s Office said that Jackson died at 1:05 p.m. from a gunshot wound to the chest, the Greenville News reported.
Greenville County Sheriff Hobart Lewis said a search involving multiple agencies was launched and more than 100 law enforcement officer descended on the scene, including the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED).
The sheriff’s department said the suspect was ultimately found hiding under the deck of his parents’ home located in the 3000-block of Easley Bridge Road, the Greenville News reported.
“The suspect was taken into custody and a handgun was recovered,” the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office said.
The suspect was a 12-year-old classmate of Jackson, the Greenville News reported.
The sheriff’s department said the boy had been charged with murder, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, possession of a firearm on school property, and unlawful possession of a weapon by a person under 18.
Authorities said the pre-teen murder suspect was transported to Columbia and booked into the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Greenville News reported.
“My heart breaks for this young boy’s family, and my prayers are with them tonight,” Sheriff Lewis said in a statement. “Additionally, I will be praying for the other young boy who pulled the trigger and his family. I cannot 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.”
“I cannot be more proud of all the law enforcement and first responders and the way they worked hand in hand with the professionals at the Greenville County school district,” the sheriff continued. “They put these plans in place for a reason, and I think today you can see the importance of these protocols.”
Authorities have not yet found a motive or determined where the 12-year-old gunman got his weapon, the Greenville News reported.
“We will continue our efforts through training and enforcement of laws to do what we can to ensure our schools are safe, but I also ask parents to have conversations with your kids,” Sheriff Lewis said. “Check their belongings and ensure they don’t have anything that could be a danger to themselves or anyone else. It truly takes a village, and we need everyone’s investment.”
Greenville County Schools officials also released a statement, the Greenville News reported.
“We are deeply saddened to hear that the student victim in the shooting at Tanglewood Middle School passed away,” the statement read. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his fellow students, the staff members at the school and everyone who knew this child. This is an absolute tragedy, and we will continue to do whatever we can to support his family and the Tanglewood community as they mourn the young life that was lost today.”
“We want to recognize the tremendous response from Principal Walles and the staff at Tanglewood, the school resource officer, Sheriff Hobart Lewis, the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, EMS, and the multiple local, state and federal law enforcement agencies who all responded rapidly in accord with our emergency response plan,” school officials said.
A vigil honoring the slain 7th grader was scheduled for 8 p.m. on Friday night at Grace Bible Church, the Greenville News reported.