A student at Hollenbeck Middle School was apparently struck by a bullet fired from off campus in late August, but school officials did not fully convey to parents that the boy was shot and wounded until two weeks after the incident.
The Los Angeles Times reported the incident Wednesday, a day after the Aug. 27 shooting was disclosed at a school board meeting by Gil Gamez, the head of the school police officers union.
The boy was struck in the jaw, initially treated by a school nurse but later taken to a hospital by his mother. The student, who was not identified, was recovering and reportedly returned to school on Wednesday.
School officials said Los Angeles police are investigating the shooting.
After the story broke on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Unified School District issued a statement about the incident.
“Law enforcement believes that a discharge of a firearm from outside of the campus inadvertently struck and injured a student who was on school property,” the statement read. “We are thankful that the student is recovering. The safety and well-being of our students and staff is always our top priority and we remain committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment at all of our schools.”
After Gamez spoke to board members on Tuesday, the Times made immediate queries, and School Police Chief Steven Zipperman quickly put together a written briefing for the Board of Education and released the document to the newspaper.
An LAPD spokesman said the department agreed with the facts in Zipperman’s report.
“A student was standing in line at nutrition/lunch, when another student standing behind him mentioned he was bleeding near the ear/jaw area,” Zipperman wrote to the board. “The student apparently also felt ‘something’ strike him.”
The school nurse treated the student but “it was still unknown what caused the bleeding,” Zipperman’s report said.
“At the time of this incident, no other persons, both students and adults nearby, heard or saw anything unusual,” Zipperman noted.
The Times reported that on the day of the shooting, Hollenbeck Principal Elsa Bolado sent out brief phone and email messages to parents saying “there was an incident outside the school that caused a student at Hollenbeck to be injured. Be assured that the student is well and all of our students are safe.”
The principal offered a revised version of events in a message sent out Tuesday night, after the board meeting in which the shooting was disclosed.
“We have received further information that the injury appears to be a result of an ‘off-campus’ discharge of a firearm from an unknown location or person, whereby the projectile came to rest within the campus perimeter, striking a student,” the principal said. “As previously mentioned, the injured student is recovering and has been receiving the necessary support.”
In his memo, Zipperman told the board that his office received an update from Los Angeles police Thursday and that Hollenbeck parents would have been notified Tuesday night regardless of the disclosures at the board meeting.
On Wednesday morning, several parents told the Times that they were concerned because the school was not more forthcoming about the shooting.