(Reuters) - New Mexico authorities were working on Wednesday to bring charges soon against a 12-year-old boy accused of opening fire at his school and wounding two students before a staff member persuaded him to lay down his shotgun, officials said.
The boy, who has not been identified publicly, will be formally charged Wednesday or Thursday as a juvenile, Roswell-based District Attorney Janetta Hicks of the state's Fifth Judicial District said in a phone interview.
The shooting at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell Tuesday, in which a boy, 11, and a girl, 13, were wounded, took place in the school gym, where students tend to wait during inclement weather before lessons begin.
The suspected shooter will not be charged as an adult due to his age, in accordance with New Mexico law, Hicks said on Wednesday.
The violence in the school gym lasted just 10 seconds before a teacher stepped forward and persuaded the boy, who had opened fire and wounded the two students, to put down his shotgun, officials said. His motive remained unclear.
The boy was being held at an "appropriate children's facility" in Albuquerque, 170 miles to the northwest, said state police spokesman Lieutenant Emmanuel Gutierrez.
Police and the district attorney said they were discussing the evidence before deciding what charges to bring against the boy. Gutierrez said it was still unknown if he would appear in court on Wednesday.
A spokesman for University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas, to which both wounded children were airlifted on Tuesday and where they underwent surgery, said the boy was in critical condition, while the girl's condition was satisfactory.
The shooting was the second at a U.S. middle school in the past three months, after another 12-year-old boy opened fire at his middle school in Sparks, Nevada, in October, killing a teacher and wounding two students before killing himself.
It comes amid a contentious national debate on gun control that intensified after a gunman shot dead 20 students and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012. Following that attack, President Barack Obama called for sweeping new gun control measures.
Most of Obama's proposals were defeated in Congress, but his administration proposed new regulations this month aimed at clarifying restrictions on gun ownership for the mentally ill and bolstering a database used for firearms background checks.(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Bernadette Baum)