Paramedic: Girl wounded in area school shooting bravest ‘I’ve ever seen’

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ITALY, Texas (KWTX) The teenager seriously injured in a shooting Monday in the cafeteria of Italy High School is “the bravest girl I’ve ever seen in all my years of experience,” the first paramedic to reach her said Tuesday.

Noelle "Cricket" Jones. (GoFundMe page photo)

Dallas paramedic Charles Hyles lives a few blocks away from the school, which two of his children attend, and rushed to help after the shooting Monday morning.

He said Noelle “Cricket” Jones, 15, told him, “Please don’t let me die,” and said he assured her he wouldn't while he worked to stabilize her as other paramedics arrived.

He then helped load her into the helicopter in which she was flown to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.

Hyles visited Jones Monday night at Parkland and reminded her of the promise he made.

Jones, who was shot in the neck and abdomen, faces “a lengthy hospital stay with multiple surgeries as well as an extended amount of time in physical rehabilitation,” according to a post on a GoFundMe page set up Tuesday to help her family with medical expenses.

The girl is “in good spirits” as she recovers at a Dallas hospital, Italy ISD Superintendent Lee Joffree told reporters earlier Tuesday.

He said he met with the girl at Parkland Memorial Hospital and said she’s “sending a message of recovery and strength.”

A 16-year-old boy was charged as a juvenile Tuesday in connection with the shooting.

The boy, whose name has not been released, is charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, the Ellis County District Attorney’s Office said.

He remains in a juvenile detention center.

A preliminary court hearing is scheduled Wednesday, Ellis County sheriff's Sgt. Joe Fitzgerald said.

Assistant Ellis County District Attorney Ann Montgomery declined to say Tuesday whether prosecutors will seek to charge the teenager as an adult.

She also declined to say why the boy was charged with two counts, although at least one student who witnessed the shooting said the teen fired at a second student and missed.

The shooting happened just before 7:55 a.m. Monday while students were gathered in the cafeteria before the first bell.

A 15-year-old boy who witnessed the shooting says he’s “never been so scared in my life.”

Edgar Eduardo Rodriguez said he was eating breakfast before school started Monday morning when the 16-year-old boy entered the cafeteria, walked up to the 15-year-old freshman, pulled out a gun and fired twice, hitting her in the neck and chest.

He says the gunman then fired once at a boy with whom the girl was talking, but missed, and then ran out of the cafeteria.

After she was shot, the girl was able to run out of the cafeteria and into a hallway, junior Marcos Duarte said.

Durate said he saw the gunman and the girl sitting together earlier in the cafeteria.

He said the boy was wearing a trench coat.

Ellis County Sheriff Chuck Edge could not confirm that a shot was fired at a second student.

A .380 caliber handgun was recovered at the scene.

Authorities say a teacher confronted the gunman as he was firing.

The teenager dropped the gun and ran.

He was captured somewhere off the school’s campus, authorities said.

“Our staff acted as trained.” Joffre said.

Authorities didn’t have information about the relationship between the boy and girl.

The school’s 265 students were bussed to nearby Stafford Elementary School to be reunited with parents after the shooting.

Classes were canceled for the day, but resumed Tuesday.

"Our counseling staff have arranged for grief counselors to be on campus to assist with students, staff and parents who have been affected by this tragedy," Joffre said in a letter to the community Tuesday.

"The counselors will also be calling students who are absent to offer services off campus if necessary. I encourage families to make use of these services."

About 300 people attended a communitywide prayer service Monday night at the Central Baptist Church’s Family Life Center on South Ward Street in Italy in southwestern Ellis County, just north of Hillsboro, along Interstate 35.

Students in grades seven through 12 attend the high school.