Accused West Orange High School shooter appears in court

17-year-old Ja'Morian Bell accused of shooting Ja'Roderick Smith, 15

J-Morian Bell is taken into custody.
J-Morian Bell is taken into custody. (Kristin Giannas)

WINTER GARDEN, Fla. – J'Morian Bell made his first court appearance on Thursday, one day after a shooting at West Orange High School.

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Bell was arrested shortly after the shooting, which left 15-year-old Ja'Roderick Smith with gunshot wounds to his face and abdomen. Smith was listed in stable condition and tweeted on Thursday afternoon "thanks for the prayers, I really do appreciate that."

Bell answered "yes" and "no" questions during his court appearance, at which time Judge Jose Rodriguez approved a motion to keep Bell at the Orange County Juvenile Justice Center while deputies interviewed a list of witnesses to the shooting.

Bell still hasn't been officially charged in the shooting, and the judge indicated the case may move to adult court if the state attorney's office decides to prosecute him as an adult.

Bell's mother and other family members attended the hearing and had nothing to say to reporters afterward. His mother ran from news cameras to a waiting car, which sped away from the justice center.

At West Orange High School, district leaders say 20 percent of the student body stayed home on Thursday, which they say can be expected after a traumatic event.

Students who did attend school were met with increased security: Orange County Sheriff's deputies patrolling the campus, metal detectors and backpack searches.

Some students held a prayer vigil before school started, praying for both the suspect and the victim.

Near campus, deputies searched for the gun used in the shooting, looking in some residential areas and in a wooded area a few blocks north of campus.

No word if they found it.

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