West Orange High School shooting victim speaks at news conference

JaRodrick Smith, 17, retains Sen. Gary Siplin as lawyer


ORLANDO, Fla. – The teen who was shot at West Orange High School by a classmate last week spoke out for the first time on Wednesday.

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JaRodrick Smith and his attorney, former state Sen. Gary Siplin discussed the shooting and school safety issues. Siplin said Smith was shot three times, once in the face, once in the shoulder and a bullet is lodged in his pelvis. Siplin said there were three other bullets that could have hit Smith.

"I miss school.  I miss football. And I just can't wait to get back out there," Smith said.

Smith, who appeared at the news conference with a scar across the right side of his nose and a bandage on the right side of his cheek, said he was blessed to be with his family and he's not sure how he feels about going back to school.

"I appreciate every prayer," Smith said.

Siplin also said Smith's 14-year-old brother witnessed the shooting.

Siplin said he is investigating whether the school district adequately protected Smith on his first day at West Orange High School.

Smith was shot in the face during a fight on campus with 17-year-old J-Morian Eddie Patrick Bell on Dec. 4 after school in the bus loop. Siplin said that Bell, a "documented gang member" and Smith knew each other in passing but they did not have any type of relationship.

"We don't know why he was spontaneously attacked," Siplin said.

"In light of the Sandy Hook and Columbine school shootings, it is outrageous for a student to bring a gun on school campus and publicly discharge it in an attempt to kill my client. Other innocent students could have been injured or killed," Siplin said. "It was Ja'Roderick's first day at West Orange. What a welcome."

Bell has not 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.

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