A teenager was shot twice in the head, once in the left chest, and once in the back by another teen yesterday outside a disciplinary school in Feltonville shortly after dismissal time.
Initial information was sketchy, but this much was known: The victim was a 16-year-old 10th grader at CEP-Hunting Park, 4224 Front St. He was shot after a brief confrontation with several youths about 3:45 p.m., shortly after classes had let out and school buses were being boarded. His attacker used a 9mm pistol and escaped by running through nearby Greenmount Cemetery. He was still being sought last night.
The shooting occurred in the street in front of the post office on Front Street, just north of the school, said Fernando Gallard, a spokesman for the School District of Philadelphia.
It was the first time this academic year that a student had been shot outside a Philadelphia public school.
James B. Golden Jr., the district's chief safety officer, said the gunman had fired five times. One of the bullets was lodged in the grill of one of the many school buses that were parked along the street to transport the CEP students home.
Administrators and staff from CEP who were outside immediately ushered students back into the school, and the building was placed on lockdown.
The victim was taken in very critical condition to nearby St. Christopher's Hospital for Children.
No one else was wounded in the gunfire, and officials said it was apparent that the victim was the shooter's target.
Police said the victim, whose name was not released, and his shooter might have known each other, but a motive was not immediately known.
Police said they believed that the shooter was a 17-year-old who also attended the school, and that the initial altercation might have involved the two teens and two other youths.
The talk circulating at CEP was that the youths had brought a neighborhood issue to school.
Gallard said the injured student had been sent to CEP in December 2007 from Olney High School. He said privacy laws prevented the district from revealing why the teen was sent to CEP.
The disciplinary school is run by Community Education Partners under contract with the School District. Officials from CEP-Hunting Park could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Officials said last night that they did not believe the firearm had been in the school. Golden said that CEP has weapons detectors and security cameras.
As police scoured the neighborhood for the assailants, Feltonville Middle School and Barton Elementary School also were placed on lockdown.
Students at CEP were allowed to leave by 4:45 p.m. The lockdown was lifted at the other schools about 5 p.m., Golden said.
Because of the concentration of schools in the area, including Edison High School, city police are stationed throughout the area at dismissal times.
"The web of security was breached," Golden said. "That is what is most disturbing about this. City police were right down the street, as they always are, and still this occurred."
CEP-Hunting Park is one of two disciplinary schools that Community Education Partners, a Nashville company, operates under a contract with the school district.
The school, which has 981 students, provides instruction and support for students from sixth through 12th grades who have been referred there for disciplinary reasons.
Most students sent to CEP have committed Level II offenses under the district's code of student conduct, including indecent assault, assault of a staff member, or repeated lesser offenses such as fighting.
The school provides a structured program with smaller classes and more adult supervision than offered in the district's regular schools.