(Reuters) - A student armed with a shotgun opened fire at a California high school on Thursday, critically wounding a fellow student before two adult staff members talked the boy into giving up his weapon, and he was arrested, authorities said.
The shooting comes less than four weeks after a December rampage at a Connecticut elementary school where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults in an attack that shocked the nation and has fueled a heated national debate over gun control.
The latest shooting unfolded Thursday morning at Taft Union High School in the Kern County town of Taft, about 30 miles southwest of Bakersfield and about 100 miles north of downtown Los Angeles
One student critically wounded by gunfire was airlifted to a nearby hospital, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said.
A second student received minor injuries while falling over a table trying the flee the classroom, and a third student was taken to a hospital complaining of hearing loss from the sound of a gun blast, Youngblood said.
The lone suspect, a 16-year-old male student, was arrested after a teacher and a school administrator who confronted him persuaded the boy to put his gun down, Youngblood told a televised news conference.
His identity was not immediately released, but police said the suspect apparently had a disagreement with the student who was critically injured.
Sheriff's deputies called to the scene went room-by-room to secure the school, and television news images showed students lined up on the sidewalk outside the school, with parents stopped in cars to pick them up.
(Additional reporting by Tim Gaynor; Writing By Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Carol Bishopric)