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Prosecutor: Graham high school shooting suspect, 16, charged as adult

Law enforcement personnel respond to a shooting outside Graham-Kapowsin High School. (KOMO News file photo)

TACOMA, Wash. - The teen suspected of shooting two students last week outside Graham-Kapowsin High School is being charged as an adult, Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said Tuesday.

The suspected shooter, identified as Ronald Ackerson, 16, turned himself in to law enforcement officials on Monday and was charged with two counts of first-degree assault, drive-by shooting and unlawful possession of a firearm in Pierce County Superior Court.

Lindquist said Ackerson is being charged as an adult due to the seriousness of the crime.

"We have zero tolerance for gun violence at or near our schools," Lindquist said. "We’re committed to protecting our youth."

The shooting unfolded last week following an altercation between two female students at the high school. The boyfriend of one those girls threatened a friend of the other girl, saying, "It's all bad for you tomorrow," according to court documents.

The friends of the two girls, both students at Graham-Kapowsin, agreed to fight Dec. 5 behind the school.

One the day of the fight, one of the two students who agreed to fight saw three people step out of a green Chevrolet Impala. One of them was Ackerson and one was the other student who had agreed to fight, court files say.

The group exchanged insults but there was no fight.

The three people got back into the Impala. The tires screeched and Ackerson, sitting in the front passenger seat, leaned out the window and fired several shots, court documents say.

Two students, bystanders, were struck by the bullets. One was shot in the leg. He made it to the locker room of the school and was treated at a local hospital for his injury.

The second injured student was found lying near the back of the school in a parking lot. He had bullet wounds to the lower left side of his abdomen. He was in critical condition, but is now stable.

Witnesses identified the two students who were in the car with Ackerson. They were arrested and have been identified as suspected accomplices in the shooting but were later released with no charges filed pending further investigation, Lindquist said.

Ackerson turned himself in after his grandmother called police and identified him as the suspected shooter. She told investigators she had seen her grandson on the news, was concerned for him, and knew this was serious, Lindquist said.

"It’s unlawful for unsupervised juveniles to possess handguns," Lindquist said. "This case is another example why. If the defendant didn’t have a gun, this would just be another minor high school skirmish."

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