On a corner just west of Mojave High School, a North Las Vegas police officer set down tiny yellow markers Friday night, identifying the spot where a 16-year-old boy was shot and killed about an hour after the school’s last bell rang.
The teen died after a fight broke out among a group of about 40 or 50 people and ended in gunfire, police said. It happened on the east end of Honey Locust Drive, a street lined with houses that spits out “just a few feet off of school property,” police spokesman Aaron Patty said.
As of Friday night, it was unclear if the teen himself was fighting or if he was a Mojave student, Patty said. The boy later died at University Medical Center.
School was released at 3:06 p.m., and Mojave went on lockdown for about 20 minutes after the 4 p.m. shooting. Later, police set up an area north of the school’s softball fields where parents could pick up students who had stayed.
Patty said police did not have a suspect but were still talking to witnesses, some of whom were students.
“In this investigation, we’re working diligently with the Clark County School District and their officers to try to determine what went down in those moments,” he said.
About two hours after the shooting, in the glow of red-and-blue patrol car lights, neighbors consoled each other in their driveways as children, in the dark about the shooting, played on scooters nearby.
Christopher Hernandez, 28, stood by himself, his hands still shaking after seeing what happened.
“At first (the fight) was two-on-two, then people versus people. Then at the end just shooting went off,” he said. “It was a good amount, like eight shots.”
After the gunfire, he said he saw the teen on the ground. “Adults went running (toward him),” he said, trying to help. He called the police as he went running himself.
Many of the young people ran off after the shooting, but a few stayed with the teen, who Hernandez said looked like he was shot in the stomach area.
“In the moment I was just like, ‘Hurry, we need an ambulance. This little boy is dying. He needs help,'” he said.
All scheduled activities at Mojave, including athletic events, are canceled through the weekend, the high school’s principal, Antonio Rael, posted on Twitter late Friday.
At a news conference that night near the school, Patty said it was too early to tell if the shooting was gang-related. A gun was not recovered.
“Working with CCSD police, we know that kids oftentimes will leave and kind of congregate around the school area after school,” Patty said, calling the huge gathering of teens before the fight “typical.”
Donna Stowell, the parent of a Mojave freshman, knew this. She stood at the school that afternoon as other parents picked up their children. She said fights break out there “every day.” She said students from other high schools go to school to fight Mojave students, but she didn’t know if that was the case Friday.
“I’m just glad that my son was already home at the time,” she said. “Where are these kids getting these guns from?”
Soon after the shooting, posts appeared on social media from teens identifying the boy they believe was shot. Messages ranged from disbelief to “rest in peace.”
Early in the afternoon, an older woman who identified herself as the dead teen’s pastor tried to cross the crime scene tape when an officer stopped her. Surrounded by a group of about seven other teens, she told police she was trying to get to him, that his mother was out of town.
They directed her to UMC.
Off Washburn Road, just southwest of the school, a group of three women who knew the teen were also directed to UMC. First, though, they reeled.
One hunched over and heaved into a nearby bush. Another, who had just socks on her feet, screamed.
“It hurts,” she yelled out. “It hurts.”
Review-Journal reporters Wesley Juhl, Ricardo Torres, Colton Lochhead and Brett Le Blanc contributed to this report. Contact Rachel Crosby at email@example.com or 702-387-5290. Find her on Twitter: @rachelacrosby.