ITALY, Texas - Authorities believe a high school breakup is part of the motivation behind a school shooting in Italy, Texas Monday morning.
Police arrested a 16-year-old boy after they say he shot a 15-year-old girl several times in the Italy High School cafeteria in Ellis County. She was flown to a Dallas hospital for treatment in an unknown condition.
Multiple students and a parent told FOX4 the suspect and the victim had been in a relationship, but they had recently broken up. They said the teen boy was very upset about the breakup.
The shooting happened just minutes before the start of the school day at the seventh through twelfth-grade campus. The superintendent says roughly 50 students and staff members were inside the cafeteria having breakfast when the student opened fire.
“There was people losing their shoes and backpacks,” recalled Danaisia McCowan who heard the shooting. “Everyone was just trying to find a way to get out of the school.”
“I looked up and everybody was in shock,” said Nicholas Feemster who was in the cafeteria. “A few people couldn't move. Then, we all piled for the door and we all fell over and couldn't get out. It was scary.”
Ellis County Sheriff Chuck Edge says the boy used a 380 semi-automatic handgun to shoot the girl. A staffer tried to stop him. The shooter immediately left the building but was captured outside.
Students were escorted from Italy High School to a nearby elementary school and were released to family members.
The sheriff would not confirm if anyone else was targeted. One student said the suspect had planned on other targets.
“I did know that the guy that was shooting was mad at the girl because she had left him for somebody else,” claimed McCowan. “So he shot at one guy and missed him, and then he shot at her.”
Hannah Haight says she turned down a date with the shooter last weekend and feared he'd be coming for her.
"I thought that was my day to die, honestly,” Hannah said. “There are no words to describe when you are in a locked room. You don't know what door he's going to come on."
Hannah texted her mother, Tina Haight, about the shooting. She said she had no choice but to get to her daughter. Tina says she'd complained to school administrators previously about an incident in which she says the same boy went into a rage and threw scissors at Hannah.
Italy ISD Superintendent Lee Joffre would not say whether the boy has had disciplinary issues at the school, citing privacy laws.
The sheriff would not address the report that the shooter was mad at a girl or if the shooter was aiming for another boy, too. A law enforcement source tells FOX 4 that investigators believe the boy got the gun from his father's home.
A close family member of the shooter said, “We're at a loss for words and are praying the young girl injured will be ok. God bless our community at this time."
A large crowd gathered Monday night for a vigil at the Central Baptist Church of Italy.
A text sent out to family and friends of the 15-year-old girl says she is out of surgery and expected to survive, but is not 100 percent out of the woods.