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12-year-old shot, killed by fellow student at S.C. middle school

Gun control advocacy nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety has tallied more than 25 school shooting incidents so far this year.

March 31 (UPI) -- A 12-year-old student at a South Carolina middle school was shot and killed by another 12-year-old on Thursday, police said.

A school resource officer working at Tanglewood Middle School called for emergency backup at 12:23 p.m. after hearing shots fired, the Greenville County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

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The victim was shot at least once and was treated by school resource officers and staff before being transported to a hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Police said the suspect fled the school and was later found hiding under a deck of a nearby residence at around 1:30 p.m.

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The suspect was taken into custody and charged with murder, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, possession of a firearm on school property and unlawful possession of a weapon by a person under the age of 18.

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"My heart breaks for this young boy's family and my prayers are with them tonight," Sheriff Hobart Lewis said in a statement. "Additionally, I will be praying for the other young boy who pulled the trigger and his family. I can not fathom what would cause someone to do this to another human being and especially at that age."

The sheriff's office said the motive for the shooting and how the suspect was able to get possession of a firearm were still under investigation.

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"We can confirm that the victim and suspect were familiar with each other and we are confident the incident was isolated," the sheriff's office added.

Greenville County school district spokesman Tim Waller said Tanglewood Middle will have an "optional day" Friday in which students and staff can show up to talk to guidance counselors, interact with one another and see the school.

"They can be in the community and take comfort with each other," Waller said.

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Tanglewood Middle School's principal, Graysen Walles, offered condolences to the family of the victim.

"My heart goes out to the family of our student who passed away, and my prayers are with them. Our entire Tanglewood family is hurting with this news and from the events that took place today. Our school is mourning and will work together to heal and process this tragedy," Walles said.

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South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said via Twitter that he has spoken with the sheriff and Mark Keel, the state's State Law Enforcement Division chief, about the shooting.

"I ask you join Peggy and me in praying for the families, students and communities affected by this tragic situation," he said, referring to his wife, Peggy McMaster.

Everytown for Gun Safety, a U.S. nonprofit advocating for gun control, has tallied as of Monday 27 gunfire incidents on school grounds this year, resulting in 4 deaths and 18 people injured.

"This should not be our reality," it said in a statement about the shooting.

Lewis called on parents in the community to check their children's belonging to ensure they don't have items that could pose a danger to themselves or others.

"It truly takes a village and we need everyone's investment," he said.

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