12-Year-Old Boy Shot In NM School Identified, Both Eyes Injured But Docs Optimistic

Gov. Susana Martinez said Thursday the boy who was shot in the face and neck at a New Mexico middle school is on a respirator and is heavily sedated, but his doctors are optimistic.

Martinez told reporters that the 12-year-old boy remains in critical condition at a Lubbock, Texas, hospital and that doctors have repaired slight damage to his heart. She also said his face and head are covered in pockmarks from the shotgun pellets, and both of his eyes were injured.

"He has improved," Martinez said. "The doctors feel good about him."

The governor identified the boy as Nathaniel Tavarez and said earlier reports that he was 11 were incorrect. She said earlier that she wouldn't release the boy's name until his family said it was OK.

School officials say counselors would be available Thursday for Berrendo Middle School students to talk about Tuesday's shooting. Nathaniel and Kendal Sanders, 13, were hurt, and a school staffer suffered minor injuries.

The suspected shooter, another 12-year-old boy, has been charged as a juvenile with three counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

Under New Mexico law, the state can charge minors as adults only if they are at least 14, said Dorene Kuffer, an Albuquerque attorney not associated with the case. The Associated Press typically doesn't identify juveniles accused of crimes.

Martinez said she visited Nathaniel and Kendal on Wednesday. She said the girl is expected to be released soon.

Authorities say they've turned up evidence that the suspect, a seventh-grader, planned the attack at the Roswell school gym, and that he warned some classmates to stay away moments before opening fire.

State Police Chief Pete Kassetas said it appeared the victims were chosen randomly.

Dozens of students and teachers at Berrendo Middle School have been interviewed over the past two days, and searches have been conducted, leading to some key details. Still, investigators have yet to speculate about a motive, and teachers and students were bracing for a tough road ahead as classes resumed Thursday and the search for more answers continued.

Meanwhile, the suspect's family released a statement saying they were heartbroken and that their remorse could not be put into words. They said the two children who were injured were in their thoughts and prayers.

The family also said it will cooperate with law enforcement to "piece together how this awful tragedy occurred."

Kassetas said investigators executed search warrants at the school, examining the boy's locker and the duffel bag he used to carry the shotgun to school. They determined through those searches that the attack was planned, Kassetas said.

The police chief also said the shotgun came from the boy's home and that the handle was sawed off so it had "more of a pistol grip." The boy had three rounds of ammunition.

Kassetas said authorities had some indication that the boy verbally warned some students about the attack as he arrived at the school. He didn't elaborate.

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