ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — Students escaping chilly winter temperatures in southeastern New Mexico were congregated in the Berrendo Middle School gym, waiting for classes to start when they heard a loud pop.
Thirteen-year-olds Evan James and Kayla Koren, standing on opposite sides of the gym, said they looked up and saw blood and a fellow student on the floor, the victim of a gunshot wound to the face. A 12-year-old classmate holding a 20-gauge sawed-off shotgun stood nearby.
"I just saw blood everywhere," Essance Sosa, 12, said Tuesday. "Everyone started screaming and running."
Panic engulfed the gym and, eventually, the entire town as word spread by text and phone that a seventh-grade boy had opened fire, critically wounding an 11-year-old boy with shots to the face and neck, and hitting a 13-year-old girl in the arm.
The shooting was over in 10 seconds, police say, thanks to John Masterson, an eighth-grade social studies teacher. Authorities credit him with saving lives as he immediately stepped in and talked the boy into dropping his weapon. Masterson then held him until authorities arrived.
"He stood there and allowed the gun to be pointed right at him," Gov. Susana Martinez told a packed room of 1,500 or so people at a prayer vigil late Tuesday, "so there would be no more young kids hurt."
Officials also credit previous "active shooter" drills by Roswell Independent School District for preparing teachers and students, who say they were ready for what happened Tuesday morning.
"I thought it was a drill. I really did," Evan said. "Then, I realized it wasn't."
Investigators still aren't sure why the boy, who has not been named by authorities or formally charged, opened fire. Authorities said the boy sneaked the shotgun onto campus through a bag or musical instrument case.