School districts re-evaluating safety measures after shooting

A chain-linked fence is all that separates Harwell Middle School students from mass acres of brush land that surround the campus.

The brushy area is used for hunting--something Edinburg Consolidated School District officials said there were aware when Harwell Middle School was opened 5 months ago.

"We were aware of the property owner and that hunting was going on and that he had instructed the hunters to shoot away from the campus," Superintendent Rene Gutierrez said.

But that was not the case on Monday afternoon.

While at basketball tryouts, two students were allegedly shot by a hunter and rushed to a local hospital.

The incident has spurred Edinburg CISD officials to take a closer look at their schools and how to make sure something like that does not happen again.

"We're thinking about building a wall with blocks on both the north and west side of the campus," Gutierrez said.

Edinburg is not the only school district that has re-evaluated their campus TM proximity to hunting leases.

"You never think about things like this, La Joya ISD Police Chief Raul Gonzalez said. We've always concentrated on people coming into our schools and doing harm to our kids."

Chief Gonzalez told Action 4 News the district has two schools located close to ranches where people hunt.

One of those schools is William Jefferson Clinton Elementary.

It, like many other rural schools in the Valley, only has a chain-linked fence separating the schoolyard from a hunting lease.

It TMs an issue Chief Gonzalez said they have addressed in the past.

"It was an unwritten understanding from the property owners that they will not fire their weapons towards any of the school properties," Chief Gonzalez said.

Despite this ~unwritten agreement TM between ranch owners and the school district, Chief Gonzalez said accidents to happen and they need to address the issue again so hunters know the ramifications of what could happen if they are not careful.