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12-year-old in custody after 2 students shot at New Mexico middle school

Two middle school students in Roswell, N.M., were gravely injured and another student, a 12-year-old seventh grader, was in police custody. NBC's Mike Taibbi reports.

A 12-year-old boy pulled a sawed-off shotgun from a bag and opened fire Tuesday morning at a New Mexico middle school gym, seriously wounding two students, before a hero teacher talked him into putting down the weapon, authorities said.

State police said the shooter, a student in the seventh grade, was in custody and was the only suspect. The shots were reported just after 8 a.m. (10 a.m. ET) at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell.

Two children, an 11-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl, were flown to University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas, both in critical condition, the hospital told NBC News.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez identified the girl Tuesday night as Kendal Sanders, who was wounded in the shoulder. She was upgraded to satisfactory condition Tuesday night and was listed as stable.

The boy, who was more severely wounded in his face and neck, wasn't identified at the request of his family. He was taken into surgery twice and was listed in critical condition Tuesday night.

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Hundreds pack the Roswell, N.M., Civic Center for a prayer vigil Tuesday night for students injured in the shooting at Berrendo Middle School.

"I am asking that all New Mexicans keep these children in your prayers," Martinez told reporters.

A school staff member was slightly wounded and declined treatment.

Robert Gorence, a prominent Albuquerque lawyer, said he was representing the suspect, who he said had been transferred to a psychiatric hospital in Albuquerque after a judge's order. Gorence said the boy's family would issue a statement Wednesday.

New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas said Tuesday night that investigators were serving three search warrants. He wouldn't say where they were being served or speculate on what charges might be brought.

Kassetas said the boy walked into the gymnasium and opened fire with a sawed-off 20-gauge shotgun as students gathered to shield themselves from the cold.

Authorities said a staff member — identified Tuesday night as John Masterson, an eighth-grade social studies teacher — walked up to the shooter and talked him into laying down his weapon. A state police officer — identified Tuesday night as Lt. Gary Smith, who was dropping his own child off at the school — quickly rushed up to help.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez confirms that two students and a staff member were injured in a shooting at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell.

Martinez said the boy pointed the gun at Masterson. The teacher asked him to put the gun down, and he did, Martinez said. Masterson then pinned the boy against a wall as Smith rushed up to help, said Martinez, who called the teacher "an amazing man."

Kassetas also praised Masterson.

"It's one thing for an armed state police officer to enter the school and do his or her job," Kassetas said Tuesday afternoon. "It's another thing for a teacher [or a] staff member to intervene in a situation like this."

Masterson couldn't reached for comment Tuesday night. The Albuquerque Journal quoted him as saying he couldn't confirm his involvement because police had asked him not to talk about the shooting, but he did say, "It was a harrowing experience."

"All I can say was the staff there did a great job," Masterson told the newspaper.

Students were taken by bus to a nearby mall, where distraught parents gathered to pick them up. NBC station KOB of Albuquerque reported that parents were taken five or six at a time into the mall to be reunited with their children.

"Right now, I'm just — I'm scared," Diana Carrasco, the mother of a Berrendo student, told KOB.

"I want to see my son. I know he's OK because I got a text message from him, but I just want to hug him," she said.

"It was scary. It was freaky," another parent, Kathy Sigala, told KOB at the mall. "I didn't understand. I got a call from where I work, and I was at home. I just got in my car, and my daughter came with the other kids."

"Today's the day that no superintendent ever wants to go through," School Superintendent Tom Burris said, but "there was some good."

"I can stand here and tell you that in the 10 seconds that transpired from the time of this thing starting until the teacher had control of the weapon, there was no cowardice," Burris said. "Everyone acted and did their duty today at Berrendo Middle School."

Sossy Dombourian and Norma Rubio of NBC News contributed to this report.

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