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Student shot in face in N.M. school shooting on respirator

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez spoke on Thursday with reporters, updating the condition of 12-year old Nathaniel Tavarez, who was shot in the face and neck earlier this week.

Roswell residents attend a prayer vigil for the victims of the Berrendo Middle School shooting in Roswell, N.M., Tuesday Jan. 14, 201
Courtesy of the Albuquerque Journal, Pat Vasquez-Cunningham, photographer.

Martinez said the young man was on a respirator and is heavily sedated, but doctors are very optimistic. Tavarez still is listed in critical condition in a Lubbock, Texas, hospital where doctors had to repair some slight damage to his heart. The governor said his face was covered with pock marks , caused by the shotgun pellets and both his eyes sustained injuries.

School officials have again said that counselors would be available for any Berrendo Middle School students so they could talk about Tuesday's shooting. Two other students, Nathaniel and Kendal Sanders, ages 13 were also hurt, as was a staff member.

The 12-year old boy accused of doing the shooting will be charged as a juvenile, with three counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Under New Mexico state law, a minor can only be charged as an adult if they are 14 or older.

Gov. Martinez said she visited Nathaniel and Kendal on Wednesday, and Kendal is expected to be released soon.

New Mexico State Police Chief, Pete Kassetas said officials have turned up evidence the suspect planned the attack and actually warned some of his classmates to get out of the way. The police chief also said it appeared the victims were randomly chosen.

Several dozen students and teachers were interviewed over the last two days, and several searches have been conducted, giving investigators some key details, but officials have yet to speculate on a motive for the shooting.

Meanwhile, the family of the shooter released a statement saying they were heartbroken and no words were adequate enough to express their remorse. They also said the injured children were in their thoughts and prayers. The family has been cooperating fully with the investigation in order to "piece together how this awful tragedy occurred."

Kassetas said they had executed search warrants for the suspect's locker and duffle bag he used to carry the shotgun to school. The searches helped law enforcement to determine the shooting was planned.

The police chief said the shotgun the boy used came from his home, and had been sawed off at the stock-end by the suspect, making it have a pistol-grip. It was determined the boy had three rounds of ammunition.

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