Valley Middle-Schoolers Hit By Stray Bullets During Basketball Tryouts


Cindy Casares Portrait

Walls, walls, walls. That’s the solution to all our problems down on the border, and a wall is what they’re thinking of erecting after stray bullets hit two boys during basketball tryouts Monday at Harwell Middle School in Edinburg.

Over fifty kids were in the parking lot behind the school that had been converted into a makeshift basketball court when the presumably stray bullets came flying through. One boy, a 13 year-old, was going for a layup when he was hit under the arm. The other, age 14, was shot in the upper right torso while sitting on a curb waiting his turn. Both boys are in stable condition in the hospital in McAllen.

The source of the bullets is still unknown though two target shooters were taken into custody and later released after they were found on an adjacent ranch about 800 yards from the school. Also found on that ranch was an undocumented immigrant, trespassing and carrying an AR-15 automatic rifle. That man will face trespassing and other charges for allegedly hunting without permission from the landowner.

Officials of the five-month-old school, as well as parents interviewed, were, ridiculously, unaware that hunting was taking place so close to the campus though Superintendent Rene Gutierrez said he was informed by the owner of a property northeast of the school that there was hunting on his ranch.

“We were not aware that there was hunting on the west side of the school or that there were [hunting] leases on the west side until last night,” Gutierrez said.

Even more disturbing is Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño’s assertion that this is but one of several new schools in Hidalgo County built in rural areas that are adjacent to land used for hunting.

How is this possible? Surely, it’s illegal to hunt that close to children.

“It’s very possible that there won’t be any criminal charges filed,” Sheriff Treviño said at a press conference this week. It turns out there is no law in Texas against hunting near a school or hospital, only against hunting inside city limits.

“You’re in the state of Texas and the state of Texas, like any other state in the union, has rural schools all over the country. And a lot of the schools are surrounded by hunting … Even during dove season, we get literally hundreds of calls of residents having barbecues having pellets rain upon their roof. I mean that happens every year. You’ve got to remember you’re in rural Hidalgo County, Texas, and it is a hunting state.”

However, he added, “you would seem to think also that there’s some sort of personal responsibility that one has to take as a hunter or as a responsible adult.”

You would think that, but then you wouldn’t be in Texas.

Surgeons were able to remove a bullet from one of the boys. Experts from the Texas Department of Public Safety will compare ballistics to determine whether the shooters were the men detained by the police.