EDINBURG, Texas – Texas sheriff says authorities have interviewed three hunters suspected of firing stray bullets that wounded two middle school students trying out for the basketball team.
Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino tells The Associated Press early Tuesday that the "working theory" in the investigation is that the hunters fired the bullets. However, he says it still hasn't been determined if the shootings were intentional, reckless or an accident.
He says the hunters were taken in for questioning Monday night but weren't immediately arrested.
He says one of the boys was listed in critical condition and the other was in stable condition. The shootings occurred Monday afternoon outside Harwell Middle School near Edinburg in South Texas.
At the time of the shooting, one of the boys was going for a layup. The other was waiting his turn to try out, Trevino said.
Trevino says the school is in a heavily rural area, with two hunting pastures nearby.
Harwell Middle School had opened just this year on the property northeast of Edinburg, which is about 50 miles northwest of Brownsville. Homes line the road approaching the school, but open fields stretch out behind it and to the north.
Investigators have spoken with owners of surrounding farms and the land was being leased to deer hunters.
The outdoor court where the shooting took place was north of the school complex at an athletic facility that includes a football field, track and tennis courts, said Oziel Garzia, a 14-year-old eighth-grader.
Annette Vargas Ugalde, a 15-year-old eighth grader, said she was about to board her bus near the gym after school when school officials started rushing students indoors.
"They told us to, 'Get inside, get inside,'" she said.
She said she heard no shots but saw a group of people on the outdoor court standing near one boy on the ground. A school nurse tended to him while another boy was sitting up.
Annett said she boarded her bus and it left.
Samuel Cepeda, a 15-year-old eighth-grader, said gangs have been a problem at the school, and he has worried about security. However, Trevino said investigators do not believe the shooting was gang related.
The school district did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
By 7:20 p.m. Monday, traffic had cleared from the road in front of the school, and only emergency vehicles remained. Several school buses made their way through traffic and the police cordon to the front of the school where they picked up students.