Los Angeles: Police investigating the apparently accidental shooting of two students at a Los Angeles high school said on Wednesday they had arrested a pair of teenagers for helping the 17-year-old boy accused of bringing a gun to class.
Two sophomores at Gardena High School were injured by a single bullet on Tuesday when a loaded gun went off in a classmate`s backpack during a health class.
The bullet passed through the neck of a 15-year-old boy before striking his classmate, a 15-year-old girl, in the side of the head, fracturing her skull.
Authorities say the 17-year-old student who owned the backpack fled after the gun discharged and was taken into custody in another classroom about an hour later. He has not yet been formally charged. It was not clear where he got the gun or why he had it in his backpack.
A Los Angeles Police Department spokesman said two minors had been arrested for helping the suspect evade police, but declined to elaborate on their role in the case.
Authorities have not identified any of the students involved in the case.
Doctors at Harbor-UCLA Medical Centre said the girl struck in the head was awake and showing signs of improvement but remained in critical condition after surgery for a blood clot.
"She was taken to surgery within less than 30 minutes of the time she arrived here," Dr James Ausman said. "The blood clot was removed very quickly. The bone was left out because after there`s an injury to the brain, the brain swells usually within 48 hours and this provides room for the brain to expand."
The boy hit in the neck was listed in good condition at Harbor-UCLA.
Meanwhile, students returned to Gardena High School under tight security and were subjected to searches and metal detector scans. Grief counsellors were also on hand.
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasey told reporters that the school had failed to follow district policy, which calls for daily random weapons searches at high schools.
He said the student who brought the gun would be expelled.
The shooting came 10 days after a college dropout in Arizona opened fire with a semi-automatic pistol outside a Tucson shopping centre, killing six people and wounding 13 others, including a congresswoman.