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Sandy • A 16-year-old boy was critically injured, police say, after he was shot outside Union Middle School in Sandy on Tuesday afternoon.

The shooting occurred about 3 p.m. when two teenage boys got into an argument on a field north of the school, said Sandy police Sgt. Dean Carriger.

The victim — who does not attend the middle school but is a student at Hillcrest High School, according to Canyons School District spokesman Jeff Haney — was transported by ambulance in critical condition to Intermountain Medical Center, where he went into surgery about 4:30 p.m. for treatment of two gunshot wounds. He remained in critical condition after surgery, according to a Sandy police news release Tuesday evening, but he is expected to survive.

Carriger confirmed that police took into custody a 14-year-old suspect, who is a student at the middle school. He was booked into the Salt Lake County Juvenile Detention Center later, the news release said, on suspicion of one count of attempted murder, a first-degree felony, and two counts of discharge of a firearm causing serious bodily injury, a first degree-felony. Formal charges, police said, will be determined by the Salt Lake County district attorney's office.

Police are investigating how and why the teen had a gun.

"There were a lot of people in the area" who witnessed the incident, Carriger said.

Outside the school, students and parents stood next to yellow police tape and watched officers pacing the perimeter. Kalani Matthews, 17, teared up as he sat on the cement outside the school and referred to the victim as being like a brother.

"I'm trying to hold it together," he said, wiping his eyes. "I'm scared."

Though he didn't witness the shooting, Matthews said the victim went to the middle school to fight the 14-year-old but didn't know the younger student would have a gun. The suspect apparently made fun of the older student's deceased mother, Matthews said, and was dating the victim's former girlfriend.

Rachel Otteson, 18, says she goes to school with the victim.

"He's a good person," she said. "He's everybody's favorite."

Otteson rejoiced when she got a text from a friend at the hospital, who told her the victim was doing OK. She ran across the sidewalk to spread the news.

Crisis counselors will be available at the schools Wednesday and throughout the week to assist students and school employees, Canyons School District said in a news release Tuesday night, and school officials have requested extra security from Sandy police.

School employees will be trained on how to interact with students worried about their safety, and teachers and administrators "will maintain a visible presence in school hallways between classes to monitor activity," the release states.

"Like everyone else," the release says, "the Canyons District community is shaken and extremely saddened by Tuesday's traumatic events.",, Salt Lake Tribune reporter Erin Alberty contributed to this story.