18-year-old shot by school safety officer remains in critical condition; police provide new details

EAn 18-year-old woman was in critical condition on Tuesday after she was shot by a school safety officer following a fight near Millikan High School Monday afternoon, police said.

In new details provided by the Long Beach Police Department, authorities said a Millikan school safety officer was driving in the area of Spring Street and Palo Verde Avenue when he saw a physical altercation in the street between an 18-year-old woman and a 15-year-old girl.

The 18-year-old initiated the altercation with the younger girl, but a motive was unclear, police said, adding that a 20-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy were also involved in the assault.

The school safety officer attempted to stop the fight and police said the shooting occurred when the 18-year-old woman and the two males attempted to flee in a gray 4-door sedan. 

Videos posted on social media show the school safety officer walking up to a gray sedan that was stopped in a shopping center driveway about a block north of the campus. The officer can be seen standing by the car’s passenger-side front window when it lurches forward and closer to him at the same time, tires squealing.

Police said the woman was sitting in the front passenger seat when she was shot in the upper body. She was rushed to a nearby hospital where she remained in critical condition on Tuesday afternoon, police said.

No other injures were reported. The Long Beach Unified School District has said the woman was not a student and that no students were injured.

School safety officers are employed by the Long Beach Unified School District. They are not full-fledged peace officers like those employed by police departments, but they do carry guns and work closely with Long Beach police.

A bullet hole in a car near Millikan High School on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021. Photo by Stephen Carr.

Long Beach Unified officials couldn’t immediately say whether it was within school safety officers’ authority to investigate crimes or detain people off campus.

“Our school safety officers are hired to protect the physical safety of our staff and students on and around campuses,” Superintendent Jill Baker said in a statement. “They are highly trained and held accountable to the established standards in their profession. Those standards will be used to assess the incident that occurred yesterday. ”

Others criticized the officer’s actions.

“He shouldn’t be shooting at kids who are just fleeing the scene, even if they did do something,” said Aidan Altobello, a Millikan junior who witnessed the shooting and whose parents consented to him being quoted. “Unless they had a weapon, he shouldn’t have shot.”

The Long Beach Police Department is investigating the incident along with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, which investigates all officer-involved shootings.

Staff Writer Crystal Niebla contributed to this report.

School safety officer fires on car near Millikan High; one person critically wounded

Editor’s note: This article was updated to show the correct age of the 20-year-old man based on new information from the Long Beach Police Department. 

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Kelly Puente is an award-winning general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. She has worked as a journalist in Long Beach since 2006, covering everything from education and crime to courts and breaking news. Kelly previously worked at the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Orange County Register before joining the Post in 2018. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].
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