Tennessee teen faces charges in school shooting

Traffic backs up on Mitchell Road outside of Mitchell High School on Monday in Memphis, Tenn. An argument that began off campus ended in a gym class Monday when a teenager walked up to another student and shot him twice. The Associated Press

AP

Traffic backs up on Mitchell Road outside of Mitchell High School on Monday in Memphis, Tenn. An argument that began off campus ended in a gym class Monday when a teenager walked up to another student and shot him twice. The Associated Press

By Woody Baird

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A feud between two high school students that began off campus culminated at a gym class Monday when one student shot the other twice, then handed the gun to a coach, saying, “It’s over now,” authorities said.

The victim, a 19-year-old senior, was in critical condition at a hospital, authorities said. The suspected shooter, 17-year-old sophomore Corneilous Cheers, was charged with attempted first-degree murder, reckless endangerment and carrying a gun on school property, said police spokeswoman Monique Martin.

The teenagers got into a confrontation off campus over the weekend or last week, police said. Investigators were trying to determine whether it was related to gang activity, Martin said.

A detention hearing was scheduled for Tuesday in juvenile court for Cheers, who did not yet have a lawyer. Calls to listings for people named Cheers either went unanswered or were answered by people who said they did not know him.

The shooting erupted in a morning gym class being held in the cafeteria at the 1,050-student Mitchell High School. About 75 students were in the class, but no one besides the senior was hurt. The gunman gave no warning, Principal John Ware said.

“He walked up to him, shot him, and made a statement to the coach that ‘it’s over now,'” Ware said. “He did not run.”

The school was locked down, and parents were notified by an automated phone alert system, spokeswoman Rita Cooper said. Many parents picked up their children though classes resumed within a few hours.

Christopher Bright, 17, was in a classroom in a different part of the school when workers in the front office made frantic calls over the school’s public-address system for the principal and security officers.

“They were screaming – yelling really fast,” he said. Students were told to stay in their classrooms but did not immediately know what was going on.

Memphis high schools have access to metal detectors, but they are not used each day.

“We had a metal detector (screening) last week,” Ware said. “We did not find any indication that we had any problems with weapons on campus.”

Memphis schools periodically use metal detectors to check students for weapons, and each high school and middle school must conduct at least nine screenings a year. The school board is debating a proposal to require daily or weekly checks, which officials say would cost at least $4.5 million a year.