Student, police officer hurt in exchange of gunfire near school

PRAIRIE GROVE, Ark. - A seventh-grader who left school after an altercation Thursday exchanged a dozen gunshots with a police officer who had tracked the boy to a hay field. Both were wounded.

The 12-year-old was shot in the abdomen. The officer, who was assigned to the school, was struck with shotgun pellets in the face, back and chest about a quarter-mile from the school, said Capt. Steve Harrison of the regional emergency services department.

The family of the boy asked that the hospital not release information on his condition, but state police said the injury did not appear to be life-threatening. The officer, Sgt. Greg Lovett, was treated and released.

Wayne Dalton, who witnessed the exchange, said he saw the officer kneeling in a shooting stance and that he heard 12 to 14 shots exchanged between the officer and the boy.

Students at Prairie Grove Junior High School were told to stay in their classrooms after the 10:30 a.m. gunfight, but the lock-in was lifted after 15 minutes. Police did not identify the boy.

''He wasn't violent. We talked about school and stuff,'' classmate and friend John Gladwin said. ''He was a smart guy.''

Superintendent Tom Louks would not describe the altercation that occurred before the student left school, but said the incident was not school-related.

Authorities do not believe that the boy had the weapon at school.

The Prairie Grove school system, which has about 1,300 students in grades K-12, serves the town of 1,800 and a rural, mountainous area on the western fringe of the Ozark Mountains.

Last year, two students in Littleton, Colo., killed 12 students and a teacher before committing suicide inside Columbine High School. Other campus shootings have occurred in Pennsylvania, Oregon and Mississippi.


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