Speculation about who shot 16-year-old Victor Bravo was flying fast at Western High School.
Students leaving school on Tuesday were willing to admit that much.
But ask who the rumors name as the shooter or whether that information has been shared with police and everyone clams up.
"I ain't trying to get shot up," said one freshman girl who refused to name names. "If you're trying to stay out of trouble, don't talk about nobody."
A second Western freshman girl also refused to discuss who the rumors identify as the suspect.
"It went around school today that if somebody says the name, they're gonna get murked," she said, adding, "That means shot."
At a Tuesday news conference, Las Vegas police Undersheriff Rod Jett railed against that kind of "stop-snitching" culture, which he said is rampant among today's youth.
"Don't buy into the hype," Jett said, urging teens to come forward with any information they have.
It's a message Deputy Chief Gary Schofield reinforced, saying that students need to show that their loyalty is with the community, not with the assailants. Schofield, a 1980 graduate of Western, said he hopes his fellow Warriors will help law enforcement catch the individual who shot Bravo on Monday afternoon, just blocks away from Gibson Middle School.
"The bottom line is that they have to stand up," Schofield said. "They have to make it safe for their fellow students. They are the answer to this problem. Somebody out there has the key to this case."
Bravo, a Western sophomore who was on his way to Gibson to walk his younger brother home, was wounded in the lower back and arm. He's being treated at University Medical Center, where he was in fair condition Tuesday night.
Bravo was shot about 11 minutes after Gibson released for the day. Witnesses told police that assailants jumped out of a vehicle and began fighting with Bravo. Between three to five shots were fired as the fight turned into a brawl involving a jumble of people.
Police had not arrested anyone in the shooting as of late Tuesday evening.
Police don't know whether the attack on Bravo is gang-related. Some Western students wondered Tuesday whether the shooting was race-related. Witnesses told police on Monday that Bravo's attackers were black.
"There is racial tension" at Western, said junior Michael Briceno. He said some students at Western choose to associate with kids of their own race. Those students sometimes arrange fights off campus against groups of students of other races, he said.
Briceno said some of those students might be in gangs, but they're discreet in classrooms and hallways.
"Nobody shows it," he said.
But Western sophomore Esgar Chavarin said he didn't feel racial tension at Western on Tuesday, where police presence was stepped up on and around campus.
"I have friends from everywhere," Chavarin said. "I don't think there's racism here."
Western junior Diana Gonzalez also downplayed racial tension at Western. What scares her are the gangs at Western and other schools that take their problems to the streets and endanger innocent students.
"People are dumb these days," Gonzalez said. "They start shooting wherever they can. I don't want to get hit."
Western High School Principal Lillie Morgan sent a letter home with students imploring anyone with information on the shooting to call police at 828-3111 or Crimestoppers at 385-5555.
"The administration and staff at Western High School would like members of the community to know the safety and security of our students continues to be our highest priority," Morgan said.
Jett announced that Las Vegas police have committed 30 officers to increased patrols around valley schools. That number will increase to 50 on Monday. The deployment is a response to the cluster of school shootings that have taken place recently, three shootings occurred in 11 days, with one fatality.
Palo Verde High School freshman Christopher Privett was killed in a drive-by shooting on Feb. 15 as he walked home after classes. Palo Verde student Gerald Q. Davison, 16, and Ezekiel Williams, 18, are charged with Privett's slaying.
The suspect in the shooting that took place Thursday near Bonanza High School remains at-large. A man age 19 or 20 was wounded in the incident.
Heightened police presence was evident outside Gibson on Tuesday, when school police and Las Vegas police converged on a beige Chevrolet truck with an extended cab at around 2 p.m. The truck fit witnesses' descriptions of the vehicle used in the shooting. After searching and photographing the vehicle, police allowed the driver to go.
The frequency of the gun incidents and the cavalier attitude that young people seem to have about using them alarms Clark County School District Superintendent Walt Rulffes, who joined Jett at the news conference.
"We probably have a better chance predicting the next earthquake in Nevada than predicting the next random shooting," Rulffes said.
Rulffes also called on citizens to contact state lawmakers and demand more funding for programs that would keep students busy and engaged after school. The availability of after-school and community programs has not kept pace with Southern Nevada's rapid growth, he said.
"It's not something more officers is going to solve," Rulffes said. "More security has made schools safer, but it's just moved the problem to the streets."
To stay abreast of that, school district police will station an officer at the Southern Nevada Counter-Terrorism Center, where police agencies across the valley share information about crime trends. School police will be able to relay information on school-based incidents that might escalate as students leave campus for home.
The violence has shaken parents, many of whom no longer allow their children to walk home from school or take the bus because of the rash of violence on the streets.
Kevin Geiss was waiting for his son Brendan, a sophomore, to be released from Western Tuesday afternoon. He said his son is "scared to death" at Western, and he would home school him if he could afford it. Geiss said he didn't have much confidence in police or the district to prevent shootings near schools.
"This is the most evil, rotten city in the world and it shows every day," Geiss, a 16-year resident of Clark County said. "It will get worse tomorrow. There will be three shootings instead of two."
Gina Trefiletti is another worried parent.
"Parents need to talk to their children and find out what's happening to them," Trefiletti said as she waited for her 14-year-old daughter Krista at Western.
The ripples sent out by violence around schools can affect children deeply, said Rosemary Virtuoso, of the district's Department of Student Threat Evaluation and Crisis Response. That's why the district's crisis response team has been on-site at every campus affected by the recent spate of school shootings. Team members were at both Gibson and Western on Tuesday. It was at Gibson, where many students had witnessed the grisly aftermath of Bravo's shooting, that counselors were in greatest demand.
"I saw a guy laying down on the ground with a whole bunch of blood on his face and arm area," Gibson sixth-grader Tyler Brown said. "It was kind of disgusting, just seeing all that blood come out."
Other Gibson students said a female classmate went to Bravo's aid after he was shot and applied pressure to his wounds while waiting for the ambulance to arrive.
Many students like that were affected by what they saw yesterday, Virtuoso said. On Tuesday, a lot of them wanted to talk about it.
"The best thing we can do for them is listen," Virtuoso said.
Counselors also tried to give them a sense of empowerment. The "anti-snitch" attitude displayed by many of the Western students also was evident among the Gibson students, she said. But counselors tried to make it clear to them that keeping silent doesn't help anyone. Talking is empowerment.
"You make yourself stronger by saying the things that you need to say and making it safer for everyone," Virtuoso said. "We ask them: 'What can you do to empower yourself?' The way they can get control of life is to take control."
Not everyone is buying into that. At Western, where some students were afraid to be named in print, individuals who may have knowledge that would lead police to a suspect are adhering to a code of silence.
"That's the rules of high school," one female Western student said. "You don't talk mess to a person with a gun."
Contact reporter Lisa Kim Bach at firstname.lastname@example.org or (702) 383-0287.