Students return to class day after shooting at West Orange High School

Deputies say 15-year-old shot in face by classmate

Author: Sheli Muniz, Reporter, smuniz@wkmg.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 06:51:56 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 05 2013 02:14:09 PM EST
WINTER GARDEN, Fla. -

Students at West Orange High School on Thursday arrived to law enforcement officers and metal detectors a day after a 15-year-old student was shot in the face on campus.

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Nearly 4,000 students were funneled into the Winter Garden school's gymnasium as Orlando police officers, Orange County Sheriff's deputies and Orange County school resource officers greeted them.

On Wednesday, Orange County Sheriff's investigators said 17-year-old J-Morian Eddie Patrick Bell got into a fist fight with Ja'Roderick Smith. Deputies said Bell pulled out a gun and shot Smith twice, hitting him in the abdomen and face.

Smith remains hospitalized at Orlando Regional Medical Center in stable condition.

Bell was arrested about two hours after the shooting and faced a judge on Thursday. The judge said it is possible Bell will be tried as an adult and he will be kept in custody for an additional nine days while witnesses are interviewed.

Bell's mother ran from the media as she emerged from court following her son's hearing.

School leaders are calling the shooting an isolated incident.

Just before classes began Thursday at West Orange High School, Fellowship of Christian Athletes led a prayer vigil. Some students were crying and others expressed comfort with the heightened security on campus.

School officials would not comment on added security at other district schools, but they reiterated the heightened safety measures at West Orange High.

"We have random metal-detector screenings on days that we don't tell students. Correct, one did not occur here (on Wednesday), and correct, a tragedy did occur here," Orange County Public Schools spokeswoman Kathy Marsh told Local 6,.

Jonathan Schueler, a senior at West Orange High, said he knows the suspected shooter.

"The kid, well, he was a buddy of mine. I mean, it sucks that this happened and I feel really bad for the young man that got shot," said Schueler, who attends a class with Bell.   "He was a cool guy. Him and I would just lift (weights) together (in gym class). I didn't see him as that type of kid."

West Orange High School has the largest population of students in the district.

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