APD: 16-year-old student killed in shooting near West Mesa High School
UPDATE: Albuquerque police have made an arrest in the shooting death of Andrew Burson. Click here for details.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A bouquet of flowers lays on the very spot where police say 16-year-old Andrew Burson was killed Friday morning.
West Mesa High School was dismissed early Friday after Burson was shot just east of campus.
"It appears the victim was a student, he may have exited the school and some kind of altercation occurred with another individual," Albuquerque Police Department Chief Harold Medina said at a news conference following the shooting.
Albuquerque police said they believe the shooter is another teenager. No suspects are in custody at this time, and it is unknown if the shooter was a fellow student. Despite that, police said there is no threat to the community.
"We do have a suspect identified and we are trying to verify to see if it is indeed the offender," Medina said.
After a shelter in place order was lifted around 10:23 a.m. Friday, students were released 20 at a time.
"As we understand it, the weapon was not brought on school premises, but obviously, this involved at least one high school student at West Mesa, and so we know that this is terribly something we have to have a conversation about at every level of our families and of our communities," Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said.
APS officials said they will also have grief counselors at the school next week.
There will be no classes for West Mesa students Monday. However, counselors will be available for freshmen and sophomores from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and for juniors and seniors from noon to 2 p.m. Monday.
Students react to shooting
Some students arrived at school just as the chaos began – so the first thing they saw was police giving one of their classmates CPR. Three students KOB 4 spoke with watched as officers tried to save the victim. At that point, they had no idea what had happened.
"I just seen the cop giving the guy on the floor – on the rocks, just laying on the rocks, not conscious – the cop was trying to give him CPR, everyone was just panicking, just sad in their faces," one student said.
"That was terrifying to honestly see, because we’re just at school, you know, you don’t expect to see that at school, and the next thing you know is you pull up and you see someone getting CPR on the floor, yeah, that’s terrifying," another student said.
KOB 4 also spoke with some West Mesa students who heard the gunshots.
"We just got done from passing period and we were going to our next class and I could just hear the gunshots coming from the field area," another student said.
Shortly after, hundreds of families received the terrifying call that there was a shooting near their children’s school. Many had to wait outside the high school for hours before they could see their children.
APS said evacuating the school – with nearly 2,000 students – was a complicated process. A spokesperson said school staff worked hard to get students signed out to parents and get them home, once they got clearance from APD.