Elected officials react to shooting inside South Memphis school

Memphis, Tenn. — Leaders across Memphis and the Mid-South responded to yet another instance of youth gun violence on Thursday.

At Cummings Elementary School, a 13-year-old boy was shot and critically injured by one of his classmates, according to the Memphis Police Department.

MORE COVERAGE: LIVE UPDATES: Everything we know about the Memphis school shooting

PHOTOS: Boy shot at Memphis elementary school

Shortly after the news broke, Sen. Raumesh Akbari issued the following statement, calling the incident “gut wrenching” and questioning how the situation unfolded in the first place.

“I am grateful for the fast-acting school staff members and first responders who worked to keep our children safe today and we are praying for this child to make a full recovery.This shooting at Cummings Elementary School is just so gut wrenching. It appears a child, who should never have had access to a firearm, has shot another child. Preventable gun violence like this traumatizes every student, teacher and staff member in the school family. As a community, we must say, “Never again.””

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris also released a statement shortly after the incident occurred, calling for prayers for those impacted and for the need to address gun violence.

“Today, a child has been critically injured from a gunshot wound while in school. We pray for the victim of this most recent shooting and all the young people who faced this unthinkable trauma. We also pray for the wisdom and courage needed to begin to curb gun violence.”

The Memphis City Council echoed Harris’ thoughts, calling the shooting devastating and asking for prayers in the wake of this tragedy.

“We are devastated to hear about the events at Cummings Elementary School. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the students, faculty, and parents.”

House Minority Leader Karen Camper acknowledged that the Cummings Elementary School shooting came on the heels of the mass shooting at the Kroger in Collierville and called for “sensible” gun laws.

“The shooting today at Cummings School is absolutely heartbreaking. Our children shouldn’t have to worry about being shot in their school classrooms and hallways. In the past two weeks, gun violence has invaded our grocery stores and now our schools. As lawmakers, we have to stand up and pass sensible gun safety laws. The safety of our children and communities must be our main focus.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Congressman Steve Cohen who issued the following statement.

I am disheartened, saddened and shocked that a child has been shot by another student at an elementary school. One thing is clear: we have too many guns in the wrong hands. Gun violence begs for commonsense reform.

State Rep. Antonio Parkinson reflected on what actions could have been taken prior to today to avoid the tragedy every unfolding.

“As we pray for the child who was shot today at Cummings K-8, let’s remember that there is nothing normal about a 13-year-old child shooting another child. Somewhere in the child’s life, we, as a society missed them, the warning signs and the opportunity for intervention. Both the victim, perpetrators lives, their families and the communities they live in will change unexpectedly. We have to do better as a society to find ways to positively impact the lives of our children before the roots of violence begins to produce fruit.”

Through the City of Memphis Twitter account, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland called on parents to take action to make sure that incidents like this do not occur again, saying that this shooting should have never happened in the first place.

“The shooting at Cummings K-8 school is heart-wrenching. I’ve received updates throughout the day, and I’m hopeful the young man in the hospital will make a full recovery. Please pray for him and his family, and for all the students and their families who have experienced this horrific event. I’m grateful for the quick action of Shelby County Schools officials and of our Memphis Police Department who did everything they could to ensure the safety of all the students. But they need our help. To parents in Memphis, please secure your guns where your children cannot get them; know what is going on in your children’s lives; and take responsibility as parents. This shooting should have never happened. How could a 7th or 8th grader obtain a gun, bring it to school, and shoot someone? We must stop gun violence.”

Though not an elected official, another voice many people were anxious to hear following the tragedy was that of Shelby County School superintendent Dr. Joris Ray.

In a press conference outside of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, where the 13-year-old boy was being treated for his injuries, Ray addressed several topics such as the recent active-shooter training his employees had recently experienced, the benefit of having a school resource officer in the school at the time of the shooting and the school’s plan of action which went into place to ensure other children’s safety.

In closing, Ray commented on recent laws, how a child got a gun in the first place and issued the following statement.

“We should be talking about reading. We should be talking about math...We don’t sell guns in schools. We don’t give guns out in schools.”