A 25-year-old former student at a Houston elementary school was taken into custody Friday after shooting the school principal, authorities in Texas said.
At about 11:45 a.m., the ex-student, armed with a rifle, shot through a locked glass door at YES Prep Elementary School and “immediately fired upon one of the employees of the school,” Police Chief Troy Finner said during a press conference on Friday. The gunman surrendered when officers arrived, he said.
Initially, the school said the wounded employee was a school administrator who was transported to a local hospital for treatment of a non-life-threatening injury. In a subsequent letter to parents, YES Prep CEO Mark DiBella said the victim was the school principal, Eric Espinoza, who was grazed by a bullet and was expected to leave the hospital on Friday.
Doris Kelsey identified the suspect as her adoptive son, Dexter Kelsey. Court records show Dexter was charged Friday with aggravated assault and deadly conduct using a firearm.
“I couldn’t believe it was him,” Doris Kelsey said, according to Click2Houston, adding that her son had mental health issues.
“I apologize to the school community because I didn’t know Dexter was in this state of mind that he was in,” she said. “I didn’t know he had the issues that he was going through and I apologize to everybody and I hope they accept my apology.”
Students told local outlets that they had undergone an active shooter drill just two days before Friday’s terrifying incident.
One student told KHOU in a livestream that she heard a gunshot, then a staff member yelled at them to lockdown and that it wasn’t a drill.
She said she saw the school’s principal with “blood on the back of his shirt and he was limping.”
Other students told KHOU that they saw a smashed glass window with a single bullet hole, and blood on the floor. Some said they hid in closets and locked rooms.
“We had an incredibly frightening day and are immensely grateful there were no life-threatening injuries,” DiBella wrote in his letter to parents.
YES Prep Elementary School confirmed no students were injured in the shooting. Police did not disclose a motive on Friday but said staff quickly identified the alleged gunman as a former student.