Teen shoots classmate at Cooperstown Police Station
Sat, 03 Apr 2010 17:48:05 GMT —
A white schoolboy with a rifle chased a black classmate into a police station near the National Baseball Hall of Fame and shot him, then himself, as the lone officer on duty closed in, authorities said.
The shooter, 16, was hospitalized with a serious wound after shooting himself in the chin, police said Saturday. The other boy, also 16, was hit in the arm. He was treated at a hospital and released.
The shooting happened Friday afternoon at the small headquarters of the Cooperstown Police Department, across the street from the baseball museum.
It began when the white teen stepped out of a car with a .22-caliber rifle and began chasing three youths who had been walking through a park near the Hall of Fame Library, village police Chief Diana Nicols said.
Authorities are investigating whether the shooter was motivated by racial hatred, she said.
The black teen ran into the lobby the station shares with other municipal offices and took cover behind a partition. The shooter spotted him and fired two bullets, Nicols said.
One bullet passed through a wall and came within inches of the startled duty officer, James Cox, who leaped to his feet.
The white teen then shot himself as Cox approached him with his gun drawn and ordered him to drop his rifle, said Nicols, who credited the officer's bravery, and some luck, for halting the attack.
"If he had been out on patrol, this might have ended very differently," she said.
The small-town department has six full-time officers, and the station is often empty during the day. Cox had only been in the building to fill out some paperwork.
The shooter remained hospitalized Saturday, police said. Depending on his condition, authorities hoped to arraign him in the hospital by Sunday or Monday.
Investigators may file a hate crime charge, Nicols said, but she declined to say why they suspect race was a factor in the shooting.
Police didn't immediately release the teenagers' names, but fellow students said both attended Cooperstown High School.
Cooperstown Middle/High School Principal Michael Cring told The Observer-Dispatch that he was surprised authorities were considering that the incident may be racially motivated.
"I've known both of these boys, and as a staff we're shocked," he said.
Neither boy has any disciplinary records at the school, he told the newspaper.
A spokesman for the Baseball Hall of Fame said the museum remained open during and after the shooting.