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Police officers paced the hallways of Union Middle School throughout Wednesday to reassure students that all was well — one day after a 16-year-old boy was shot twice outside the north doors.

That air of safety engendered by the police presence contrasted with the commotion that occurred at about 3 p.m. Tuesday when a 14-year-old student of the middle school allegedly fired at the victim before a large group of witnesses. After hearing the gun go off, teachers ran outside to usher students into the building.

"They literally ran toward the incident to ensure the students were safe," said Canyons School District spokesman Jeff Haney.

The victim, a student at Hillcrest High School, remained in critical condition Wednesday. Charges were pending for the suspect.

The two boys "had been involved in a conflict" and agreed to meet for a fight on the north field of the middle school, said Sandy police Sgt. Dean Carriger.

After an argument, the suspect apparently pulled out a gun — police aren't saying how he got it — and shot the victim two times. The older student was transported to a hospital and went into surgery. He is expected to recover.

The 14-year-old was arrested and taken to a juvenile-detention center on suspicion of one count of attempted murder, a first-degree felony, and two counts of discharge of a firearm causing serious bodily injury, also first-degree felonies.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said his office will screen possible charges Friday.

"We want to be very careful," Gill said. "This is not something that's taken lightly."

Carriger declined to release where the suspect was hit, saying that information is part of the investigation. Police will continue to interview witnesses.

"There are a lot of individuals who were there" and saw the shooting, Gill said.

Crisis counselors were available at the school Wednesday to reassure students "this is a very safe place," Haney said. The counselors talked to concerned students about "difficult emotions" and dealing with trauma.

The school requested additional police officers to monitor the area and be present for students who felt nervous returning to classes. At least five police cars sat outside, Haney said, while a handful of officers walked around inside.

Outside the school Tuesday afternoon, parents and students hugged and cried while watching police run yellow tape around the perimeter.

Kalani Matthews, 17, said he is friends with the victim, whom he referred to as being like a brother.

"He was going to fight [the suspect] because he made fun of his dead mom," he said. "I ran up here as soon as I heard."

Matthews also said the suspect was dating the victim's former girlfriend.

Friends called the victim a good person with a hearty laugh and a propensity for peacekeeping.

Twitter: @CourtneyLTanner