Student shoots himself while in custody at North Shore HS
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A high school student in Galena Park shot himself while handcuffed in the back of a police car Wednesday. The 17-year-old had just been taken into custody after one of his friends warned he might be thinking about hurting himself.
At last check, the North Shore High School student was out of surgery and listed as stable at Ben Taub Hospital. Now, there are questions about how well the teen was searched before being put in the police unit where he shot himself.
"It's very sad," said North Shore senior Eurika Burton. "It's really sad."
We're told the Precinct 3 Constable's office was called by the school with a report of a student who possibly had a gun or who presented a danger to himself. Two deputies are said to have found the student in a common area of the high school, patted him down, then handcuffed his arms behind his back for his own protection. No handgun was retrieved during a ride to a mental health facility. With his arms restrained and in the back of a patrol car, the student shot himself.
"Is it fair to say something was missed?" we asked Harris County Pct. 3 Constable Ken Jones.
"It appears, but again I do not know until we conduct the investigation, until it's completed. I don't want to speculate or say until it's done," he replied.
Meanwhile, students at North Shore Senior High School have some idea of what happened.
"By that time, it was already broadcasted on Twitter, Facebook and everything, so everybody knew what was going on," Burton said.
"He was searched. He was handcuffed and put in the back of a police car," Galena Park ISD spokesperson Jonathan Frey said.
"I was not told that a gun was retrieved off of him," Frey continued. "I know he was searched. He may have had it hidden really well. All I know is that when he was in police custody, in the back of a car with handcuffs on, he somehow managed to retrieve apparently a hidden gun and shoot himself."
Friends could only guess as to why the teen would want to hurt himself.
"Probably stress. He's got baseball, girl problems, all that. He's real popular," said Marquis Mills, a friend of the victim.
"He basically said on Facebook, his last post was he was going to end it all today," said Burton.
His friends showed me some of the varsity baseball player's tweets from Wednesday morning.
"The most recent one was 'bye guys - today is the day. I love you I'll make it easier after this period,'" a classmate said.
But as their friend was transported to Ben Taub Hospital, still conscious, these students' primary question is still unanswered.
"If you're in custody, how do you shoot yourself, without searching him or anything?" Mills asked,
There are no answers yet as to how the handgun was missed, but Ray Hunt with the Houston Police Officers Union says it happens.
"Sometimes a chaotic situation can make it so that attention is drawn away from the officer to something else," Hunt said.
The Harris County Sheriff's Office's homicide division is conducting an investigation, and in coming days, more information will come out on what the procedures exactly are and whether they were followed.
Meanwhile, a letter was sent home with students, notifying parents of the incident. The school district canceled all after school activities.
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