Middle-schooler says bus shooting was an accident
Posted February 11, 2009 7:46 a.m. EST
Updated October 12, 2011 9:50 a.m. EDT
Youngsville, N.C. — Fourteen-year-old Dustin Gray had his Wednesday all planned out.
The Zebulon Middle School eighth-grader was to attend a school pep rally in the afternoon and then go home to get ready to see the Duke Blue Devils take on the visiting North Carolina Tar Heels in one of college basketball's most-heated rivalries.
He even dyed his hair Carolina blue for his favorite team.
But on his way to school, his plans changed when, authorities say, a fellow bus rider shot him in the leg.
"Some little kid brought a gun," Dustin told WRAL News in his first interview after the incident. "He didn't mean to shoot me, though."
Dustin said he was sitting next to an 11-year-old boy on the bus, using his cell phone when, all of a sudden, he felt something hit him above his right knee. And then, he said, he heard a loud shot.
"I didn't cry or nothing," he said. "I was just screaming."
He didn't even see the gun, he said, and thought the shot came from the other boy's backpack.
Dustin called his mom – and not wanting to upset her, told her that something was wrong with his leg and asked her to meet him at the nearest bus stop with an ice pack and juice.
As he waited for her to get to him, he sat and ate a Pop-Tart.
Meanwhile, Dustin's bus driver called 911.
"All of a sudden, I heard a very loud bang," the female caller told the 911 operator. "We smelled an odor, and this kid's got a hole in and out of his knee – just above his knee."
Eventually, Dustin was taken to Rex Hospital, where he was treated for a flesh wound and released.
Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said the gun's going off was likely an accident.
Authorities said there was no indication that the 11-year-old boy was carrying the gun for protection or to purposely harm anyone.
His father, Lawrence Lavon Mouzzon, 53, of 5316 New Dixie Court in Youngsville was charged with one count of failing to store firearms to protect a minor.
According to an arrest warrant, Mouzzon left his .25-caliber pistol "in a condition that the firearm can be discharged" and "should have known that an unsupervised minor would be able to gain access" to it.
Mouzzon was released from the Wake County jail without bond and promised to appear for a first court appearance Thursday. He declined to comment Wednesday afternoon.
Harrison said juvenile petitions, which are similar to criminal charges in adult court, could be filed against Mouzzon's son, but the case was still under investigation.
Eight students were on the bus at the time of the shooting, Wake County Public School System officials said. The district notified parents about the incident with voicemails, and counselors were on hand Wednesday to talk with students.
The school system has a zero-tolerance policy for weapons on campus, which includes school buses, and school system officials said disciplinary action against the 11-year-old is possible.
"Today was a scary situation, but one that worked out well and we're thankful for that," said Wake County schools spokesman Michael Evans.
Dustin's father agrees.
While his son casually told his version of what happened to him as if it were not a big deal, Tommy Gray sat and watched as his eyes welled up with tears. He realizes the seriousness of the situation.
"I'm thankful it's not as bad as it could have been," Tommy Gray said. "It could have been several other people getting shot as well. I wouldn't want to wish this on anybody."
Dustin said he's also thankful and knows it could have been much worse. But it does have one big advantage, he said.
His dad says he is staying home from school Thursday – and that means he gets to stay up for the entire UNC-Duke game.
Now, he's only hoping for a Carolina victory.