PITTSBURGH (AP) – A 15-year-old student has been charged in the fatal shooting of his 15-year-old schoolmate just outside a Pittsburgh school shortly before classes were to start Wednesday morning, police said.
Officers found Derrick Harris just before 7:30 a.m. with a gunshot wound on the front steps of Oliver Citywide Academy, police said. A gunshot detection system indicated that 11 shots had been fired. Major Crimes Commander Richard Ford said Harris was critically injured and taken to hospital where he died.
The other 15-year-old student, who was seen by an officer running from the school with a gun, was arrested and a weapon recovered, Ford said. The student was identified as Jaymier Perry in a court filing and Jamier Perry in a police statement. He was charged with criminal homicide, possession of a firearm by a minor and carrying a firearm without a license. Perry was taken to the county jail, according to police. Court records did not list a defense attorney.
Oliver Citywide Academy is a full-time special education center serving grades 3-12, according to the city school district’s website. It was not immediately clear what prompted the shooting.
Most students were still on their way to school when the shooting happened, and buses were diverted to another school building, according to city spokeswoman Maria Montano. Students already at school were kept in the building and classes were canceled for the day.
“We believe, based on the information we have and the video we’ve been able to see, that we have the actor in custody and that there is no potential threat to the other schools,” Ford said.
The city’s new police chief, Larry Scirotto, on the job in his first full day since being confirmed Tuesday, said at the scene that such violence was “unacceptable.”
“The tragedies cannot continue unchecked,” Scirotto told WTAE-TV, pledging to work to assure parents that “when they send their children to school, their children will not be a victim of gun violence.”
Mayor Ed Gainey pledged to help students affected by the shooting and said his administration would connect the family with support services.
“No child should ever have to be afraid to go to school, and no parent should ever have to worry that their child will never come home,” Gainey said.
“We have cultivated a culture of violence and death, celebrating guns and glorifying shootings,” he said in a statement. “… We have to cultivate a new culture, create a new way forward for our children.”
The shooting came a little more than a year after another student was gunned down at the same school. Fifteen-year-old Marquis Campbell was killed in January 2022 as he sat in a school bus waiting to come home. The alleged shooters — two brothers Campbell knew from another school — were charged earlier this year with murder and conspiracy.
The shooting also came exactly one year after 19 students and two teachers were shot down at a primary school in UvaldeTexas.