In Santa Clarita, California, two people were killed and four were injured, including the gunman, in a shooting rampage Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019.
Los Angeles County authorities said that a student at Saugus High School was taken into custody and was being treated at a local hospital. Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the suspect was a 16-year-old Asian male. His birthday was on Thursday. Villanueva said the student was in “grave” condition. He shot himself in the head.
The 16-year-old gunman shot five other students in the quad area of the school. He used an automatic weapon. Kent Wegener, a captain in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, said after the gunman shot his fellow students, he turned the gun on himself. He said the suspect stopped shooting when he ran out of bullets.
Two students: One 16-year-old female and a 14-year-old male student died in a local hospital. Two 14-year-old boys, a 15-year-old girl, and a 15-year-old male were injured in the shooting.
Wegener said there were reports of possible online threats before the attack. This situation is under investigation.
“I know there are rumors out there about social media posts and different videos that may have been posted from this teen. We will be looking into that. At this point, I don’t have any information about that,” according to Wegener.
The shooting occurred just before 8 a.m. at the 2,500-student school. The school is 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles in the town that is home to Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Surveillance video showed officials of law enforcement swarming around the school and multiple victims were wheeled out away from the scene on gurneys to waiting ambulances.
So far, in 2019, there have been 30 shooting attacks resulting in death or injury.
According to the White House, Donald Trump was monitoring the shooting. Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted his support for the victims of the shooting, their loved ones and first responders working to “bring this horror to an end.”
The Mayor said, “The shocking incident at a high school in Santa Clarita is tragic and heartbreaking.”
Fifteen-year-old Elijah Mims told USA Today in a phone interview that he was approximately 20 feet away from a tall person in black clothes when he began shooting. He said: “We were right there. We were scared out of our mind. We were lucky to have not been shot in that moment… We never thought anything would occur in a suburb like Santa Clarita. It’s such a lovely place.”
Mims’ friends were chilling out on the quad when they heard the first gunshot.
“Everyone had turned around thinking someone was being funny and popping a balloon. Then there were three more gunshots, and everybody started running.”
According to Mims, he ran with his friends to an empty classroom, where they took shelter with 30-40 other students for about 20 minutes. Mims said: “We had girls all huddling around each other. We were trying to stay quiet. I told my family what happened, but I told them not to call me because I didn’t want anything ringing or buzzing to go off.” They remained in that spot until the shooting subsided.
Troy Grant, 15, said when the shooting started, what he heard sounded like balloons popping.
“Then I heard it multiple times and saw a herd of students running, so I then knew it was a shooting. I don’t know what to feel right now, just hoping everyone’s safe and OK,” Grant wrote USA Today on Facebook.
Under police direction, lines of students were removed from the scene. Students were loaded onto school and city busses to take them where they could be reunited with their parents.
Charlotte Jinkins, 36, said she dropped off her 14-year-old son at 7:30 a.m. She saw a large group of students running toward a nearby church. The church was located at the east end of Centurion Way.
“I heard a group of kids saying, ‘They are shooting!’ It all happened so quick.” Then sheriff’s deputies began to arrive.
According to George Atilano, his 14-year-old trombonist daughter texted him from the band room. The band director went outside to confirm that there was a shooter. Then he went back and found places the students could be kept safe from the shooting. This included the office and the library.
Atilano said he rounded up students and shoved them in there. He told her he called the sheriff’s department, and the students were rescued 30 minutes later.
After the shooting, authorities searched for a male suspect in black clothing. He was believed to be a student at the Santa Clarita school. A weapon was recovered at the scene; however, authorities are not providing details at this time.
Authorities tweeted “This is still a very active situation. Reports of approximately 5 victims being treated. Parents, deputies are on scene everywhere protecting your children,” the sheriff’s department tweeted.
The Santa Clarita school was locked down as well as all the schools in the William S. Hart district. The public was discouraged from entering the area.
“If you live in neighborhoods anywhere near Saugus High, PLEASE LOCK DOORS and stay inside. If you see suspect, male dark clothing, in backyards, etc. CALL 911,” the sheriff’s office tweeted.
Katie Hill, former congresswoman, who resigned her seat last month, graduated from Saugus High School in 2004. She told USA Today she was really concerned for the students.
“We had countless interns and volunteers on the campaign that were current and former Saugus students. We were really, really terrified of who we might know that has been impacted.”
Days before the shooting, the Secret Service issued a report that examined over three dozen attacks over a 10-year-period.
In almost every case, the report concluded, attackers engaged in threatening or other suspicious behavior that caused people to raise concerns before the assault.
The review tracked analysis of mass casualty attacks in 2018. It was published in 2019 and it affirms much of the violence could have been averted.
According to the report, in 80 percent of the cases, the behavior of the attackers was so alarming that it “elicited concern from bystanders regarding the safety of the attacker or those around them.”
The Secret Service reported, “In many of these cases, someone observed a threatening communication of behavior but did not act. These findings continue to highlight the importance of encouraging students, school personnel and family members to report troubling or concerning behaviors in order to ensure that those in positions of authority can intervene.”
By Jeanette Vietti
USA Today: A day of ‘horror’ at Santa Clarita high school: 2 dead after student shoots 5, then himself
NBC News: Santa Clarita, California, high school shooting leaves 2 students dead, multiple injured
CNN: Video shows 16-year-old shooting 5 classmates, authorities say, two died
Image Courtesy of Jeff Turner’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License