The family of a 12-year-old US boy who police say opened fire on schoolmates with a shotgun inside his school gym is heartbroken over the tragedy.
The boy's parents and grandparents issued a statement through their lawyer on Wednesday, saying their thoughts and prayers are with the two children who were shot on Tuesday at the school in New Mexico. The family says its remorse cannot be expressed in words. They added that they love the boy and will continue to co-operate with law enforcement as they piece together "how this awful tragedy occurred".
Police say the shooting was planned but that the victims - an 11-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl - were chosen randomly. A teacher was also slightly wounded. Investigators have yet to speculate on a motive.
"We found evidence to believe it was thought out, and planned, prior," New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas said.
In the latest school shooting to hit the United States, the boy allegedly burst into his school gym on Tuesday, filled with 500 of his fellow students, pulled out a gun and started shooting.
The incident finished dramatically when a teacher, who was lightly wounded in the attack, talked the shooter into putting down the gun and surrendering to police.
Berrendo Middle School remained closed on Wednesday after the shooting, with residents organising a vigil to support the two injured students.
John Masterson, the teacher who stopped the shooter, sustained very minor injuries.
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez said that one of the students, 13-year-old Kendal Sanders, was in "stable" condition as she recovered following surgery for a right-shoulder injury. The other injured student, an 11-year-old boy whose name was not given "was injured more severely than Kendal", Martinez said. The boy was "in surgery for a second time (on Tuesday) afternoon and his condition is still listed as critical", she added. "He's suffered injuries to the side of his face and his neck."
Kassetas confirmed that the alleged shooter was 12 years old and used a 20-gauge shotgun he had hidden in a bag.
His motive remains unknown. But police searched his locker at school, a bag and "a residence here in the Roswell area", without specifying whether it was the suspect's home.
The incident was the latest in a long line of US school shootings that have revived a debate over gun control. President Barack Obama called for tighter gun ownership laws in the aftermath of the 2012 shooting of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Connecticut.
Agence France-Presse, Associated Press