Court Orders Mental Evaluation of School Shooting Suspect

Officials: Girl shot in neck, abdomen in Italy High School attack

A 16-year-old boy who is accused of opening fire inside a North Texas high school wounding a classmate earlier this week was ordered by a court to be psychologically evaluated and to be detained for 10 working days.

The boy is charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Authorities haven't released his name because he's a juvenile. He appeared in court Wednesday for a juvenile detention hearing in Waxahachie wearing handcuffs and orange jail garb, accompanied by an attorney and family members.

Authorities say he repeatedly shot 15-year-old Noelle Cricket Jones in the cafeteria of Italy High School on Monday morning before taking aim at a second student.

"He only stopped because he ran out of bullets," Ellis County 1st Assistant District Attorney Ann Montgomery said after the hearing.

The teen was taken into custody outside the school shortly after the shooting.

Authorities have not released a motive but prosecutors said surveillance video appears to show the teen was angry with the girl. He's seen waving his arms and stomping around her as she lay wounded on the cafeteria floor.

District Court Judge Cindy Ermatinger ordered the teen to remain in custody and undergo a psychological evaluation. Another hearing is scheduled for Feb. 7.

Noelle is hospitalized with neck and abdomen wounds and is expected to survive.

Her father tells NBC 5 she was shot six times and is facing a lengthy hospital stay and physical rehabilitation.

Italy Independent School District Superintendent Lee Joffre told reporters Tuesday outside Italy High School that he met with Noelle at the hospital and that she's "sending a message of recovery and strength."

Prosecutors will review a breadth of material before determining whether they will seek to try the teen as an adult, Montgomery said.

"We have to wait to receive entire police file and the psychological examination before we determine how we want to proceed," she said.

Ellis County District Attorney Patrick Wilson spoke with reporters after the hearing, his voice shaking with emotion.

"There are no winners in this, no matter how it shakes out," he said. "It was a tragedy for everybody."

There was a powerful moment before the hearing began. The mother of the alleged shooter began to cry when she saw her son shackled at the waist and feet. At that moment, the father of the victim gave her a hug and began consoling her and the boy's father.

Agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives searched the school for weapons or explosive devices before students arrived Tuesday.

Joffre has declined to reveal any punishment the boy may have faced in the past, saying the law prohibits a district from speaking specifically regarding student discipline or any other student incidents.

Italy is about 40 miles south of Dallas.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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