A former Palmetto High School student accidentally shot himself after being on campus following a basketball game on Tuesday night, according to police. He could face criminal charges.
The former student told police he had been the victim of a drive-by shooting, but their investigation has proved otherwise, according to Police Chief Scott Tyler.
At about 9:30 p.m., police were called to the 1200 block of 17th Street West, just in front of Palmetto High, to a report of a shooting. Officers found the 17-year-old victim with a gunshot wound to his thigh.
The teen, who is not currently enrolled at any school in the Manatee County School District, told the officers he was walking east on 17th Street West when a car with three people passed by and someone shot at him three or four times.
But after watching surveillance footage from a camera at the school, speaking to witnesses and examining the bullet’s trajectory, detectives determined that teen accidentally shot himself. He has since undergone surgery, and is expected to make a full recovery.
“Obviously, he needed a story to explain why he had a bullet wound,” Tyler said.
The school district sent a robocall out to Palmetto High families from Principal Carl Auckerman late Wednesday afternoon alerting them of the incident, according to district spokesman Michael Barber. The message did not notify parents that the former student had been on the campus prior to the shooting, however, according to a transcript of the call.
At 17, the former student cannot legally carry a handgun at all, especially on a school campus. Police are not certain whether he attended the basketball game but video footage showed he had been on the campus as the crowd from the game was letting out.
The teen is not cooperating with the investigation and refusing to speak to police anymore, according to Tyler.
“We have not recovered the gun yet,” Tyler said.