HOUSTON — A suicidal high school student taken into custody at North Shore Senior High School Wednesday shot himself while sitting handcuffed in the back of a patrol car.
He apparently used a gun hidden in his clothing to shoot himself in the back of the head, authorities said.
“As he was searched and handcuffed and put in the back for his protection, and he was being transported to a facility where he could be taken care of, he managed to retrieve a hidden gun and shot himself,” said Jonathan Frey, a school district spokesman.
The deputy constable who took him into custody searched him, but overlooked the weapon, Galena Park ISD officials said.
“I know he was searched,” Frey said. “He may have had it hidden really well. All I know is that when he was in police custody, in the back of car with handcuffs on, he somehow managed to retrieve, apparently, a hidden gun and shoot himself.”
Officials with the Precinct 3 Harris County Constable’s Office say exactly how that happened is still under investigation.
The trouble began Wednesday morning when a student reported receiving a disturbing text message indicating a friend might be contemplating suicide, officials said. He reported it to deputy constables, who act as the school’s security force.
The young man who sent the text message was taken into custody shortly before 11 a.m.
As the deputy drove through the campus with the handcuffed teenager in the back seat, a gunshot echoed around the school grounds.
Frey said the severely injured teenager was rushed to Ben Taub Hospital.
Aerial images of the scene showed sheriff deputies bagging a large handgun, possibly a 9 mm Ruger, as evidence.
Students voiced dismay about the shooting. “Why bring a gun to school to kill yourself?” asked Anthony McDonald Jr., a high school student. “You can do that at home. If you’re gonna bring a gun to school, you’re gonna kill yourself?”
“I guess what they were worried about was maybe he was going to try and shoot somebody else,” said Lewis Arzola, another student. “If he brings this to school, he might have some other intentions. You never know.”
School officials planned to give students letters explaining the incident to parents. Counselors will also be on hand to talk with traumatized students.
Frey said the shooting victim’s family was with him at Ben Taub Hospital, where he was out of surgery and in the ICU.