"The shooter has been apprehended," police in Roswell, New Mexico, said in a statement, without giving any further details on the incident or the suspected gunman.
A student at Berrendo Middle School, which serves students in grades six through eight, told the Albuquerque Journal that he had seen another student carrying a gun, and then saw a boy get shot. But authorities could not confirm the identity of the shooter.
The two injured students from the school, which was placed on lockdown after the shooting, were taken to a local hospital, where they were stabilized before being transferred to another facility, said Brooke Linthicum, a hospital spokeswoman.
The students were taken by helicopter to University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas, where a 14-year-old boy was in critical condition and a 13-year-old girl was in serious condition. The students were taken to the Texas facility, about 150 miles (241 km) east of Roswell, because it has a Level 1 trauma center, said hospital spokesman Eric Finley.
The boy was shot in the face, students told the Albuquerque Journal. Sixth-grade student Anyssa Vegara told the paper she was talking to a security guard when she heard a shot.
"I turned around and all I saw was someone on the floor with their arm bleeding," Anyssa told the Journal.
The incident was the second at a middle school in three months. In October, a 12-year-old boy opened fire with a handgun at his middle school in Sparks, Nevada, killing a teacher and wounding two other students before shooting himself to death.
It comes amid a national debate on gun control, after a gunman shot to death 20 students and six adult 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 background checks on buyers of firearms.
A recorded voice message on Berrendo Middle School's phone instructed parents to pick up their children at a nearby location.
Roswell, a city of 48,000 people in southeastern New Mexico, is best known for its association with UFO lore because of the 1947 crash at a nearby site of an object UFO proponents believe was an alien ship. The U.S. military says materials recovered near the site were from an experimental surveillance craft.
Kathy Sigala, a parent, told Roswell television station KOBR, an NBC affiliate, that she was made aware of the shooting by a phone call from an office colleague.
"It was scary, it was freaky," Sigala told the station. "We just can't believe that it would happen here."
A dispatcher with the Roswell police said the initial report came from the Chaves County Sheriff's Office. An official there declined to comment.
© Thomson Reuters 2014