Police Reportedly Take Two Hunters Into Custody In Texas School Shooting

We have followed a long line of hunting accidents and buck fever cases which are becoming more and more common as housing areas expand into rural areas (here and here). Now in Edinburg, Texas, police have taken two hunters into custody on suspicion of firing the stray bullets that cut down two middle school students at Harwell Middle School.

The two students were trying out for the basketball team when they were hit by the bullets. One boy is in critical condition and another is in stable condition. One bullet lodged in an organ of a 14-year-old boy and another 13-year-old student have a serious but less threatening wound.

After the shooting, a police helicopter found one man nearby with a .223-caliber semiautomatic rifle and then police found two other hunters on the nearby ranch toting .30-caliber rifles.

What I found most interesting is that there are two “hunting pastures” near to the school, which is in a heavily wooded area. The surrounding farms were being leased to deer hunters. Obviously, if responsible, these hunters should be held accountable. All states limit the firing of hunting rifles within a set distance from a dwelling or a school. However, I am most interested in the responsibility of the city and the school in allowing hunting to occur close of a school in a heavily wooded area. This strikes me as facially negligent and a lawsuit might serve a useful purpose to push schools and cities to be more proactive in protecting children. What is astonishing is that we constantly hear of absurd cases of zero tolerance for drug or play guns in school. Yet, here is a school that has children playing outside next to hunting pastures where hunters are firing high-powered rifles. The school could have sought to bar hunting or erect protective walls around the playground — or even insist on closing the school — rather than run the risk of such injuries to children.

A negligence case against the city or school will face some challenges. There is the proximate causation issues related to hunters who allegedly violated criminal and regulatory rules in firing toward the school. However, the negligence is based on the need to anticipate such wild shots. In Texas, someone convicted of any sexual crimes cannot live within a significant distance from a school but hunters are apparently shoot at deer around its perimeter. Clearly someone had to hear shots in the hunting areas before this tragedy if these areas have been used for hunting previously. The most direct liability falls on the hunters for negligence. However, while I assumed that these shots violate state law (and thus could constitute negligence per se), I have had a difficult time finding the specific rules often found in states limiting hunting near homes and schools. Indeed, what is interesting is the relative lack of state limitations stated with regard to hunting near school in the state regulations. Indeed, the rules refer to county rules but I could not find any specific hunting rules in Hidalgo County, Texas.

Source: Brownsville Herald as first seen on Reddit.

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33 thoughts on “Police Reportedly Take Two Hunters Into Custody In Texas School Shooting”

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  2. I’d be interested to hear of any follow-up to this story.
    Were the ‘hunters’ ever charged with anything?
    Did the school build a wall?

  3. pete
    1, December 13, 2011 at 5:22 pm
    .223 or 30.06 would go straight through a cinder block wall. they would need an earthen berm.
    Yep. An alternative might be a two-sided wall structure (reinforced CMU or driven pilings) with the void between filled with sand. I’m sure there is a reasonable amount of research on these types of structures. But then, that doesn’t mean that the folks associated with this school will dig up that research…

    Oh, and as a city-kid (and a city-adult) you’d be surprised at how much gun violence really isn’t an issue. Sure there are some “bad areas”, but in most parts of Chicago, for instance, there really isn’t a reason to be concerned with gang/cop/drug dealer shooting. Whether it’s a rural school, like this one in Texas, or a suburban school (like Columbine, Colorado) there is a pervasive baseline risk everywhere in the US of school kids being shot, and in most parts of most actual cities, the local risk isn’t much above that baseline.

  4. Kids can get bounced out of school for toy pistols or plastic knives or aspirin, but God forbid that anyone get between a Texan and his right to discharge firearms of any caliber and in any direction!

  5. OS My daughter graduated in 2010. The school was in a safe neighborhood and the school had security. I was told that there were some “high profile” students there so this was needed. After all, it is Texas. They started out at a parochial school that did not have security, and it was in the middle of a city.

  6. SwM, if your kids were going to school in the city these days, you would and should worry about them getting shot. I read about several kids hit by gunfire in Jackson, MS. That was a either a daycare or a kindergarten. Gang shootout.

    raff…..not gonna happen. Might as well build the wall. There are always going to be people doing illegal things, like shooting in the direction of occupied buildings. When not driving their cars through them. we had a drunk make a new door in the side of the Senior Center in our town a while back.

  7. My kids went to schools that are in cities so I never thought about this. Most people probably don’t know that there is not a law that protects children in rural areas. I didn’t but now I do. I wonder what laws other states such as Wisconsin have in place. There is a slew of deer hunters there. We used to see the dead bloody deer on top of the cars and trucks on the way from St. Paul to Chicago.

  8. Elaine M.,

    I’ll be the first to say that I think that there should be some liability….But you have to think that this is a landed state and if you own land especially in the rural areas…NO ONE is going to tell you what you can or cannot do with it…Tell a person on wall street that they can’t rip off poor old lady’s….You have to also recall that this is in the valley and what happens there usually stays buried….

  9. Elaine,
    That is what bugs me. A simple law making it illegal to is charge a firearm within 2 or 3 miles should protect the students and save the money for a wall.

  10. AY,

    There are no laws prohibiting hunting on private lands near schools down there? Why not? The right to hunt with guns takes precedence over the safety of children?

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