On his 16th birthday, California student opens fire at high school, killing two
Santa Clarita - A Southern
California high school student killed two classmates and wounded
three others on Thursday, pulling a .45 calibre semiautomatic
handgun from his backpack and emptying it in a matter of seconds
as the school day began.
He saved the last bullet for himself. It was his 16th
The teenaged gunman, whose name was not provided by police,
survived the self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head but was in
grave condition in hospital, law enforcement officials said.
Captain Kent Wegener of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's
Department told reporters the entire incident, captured on
videotape, took 16 seconds as the young man stood in one spot
and fired on one student after another.
"From right where he was standing, he doesn't chase anybody,
he fires from where he is until he shoots himself," Wegener
The scene at Saugus High School was reminiscent of other
mass shootings at US schools, including Marjory Stoneman
Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a former student
with an assault gun killed 17 people on February 14, 2018.
It was the 85th incidence of gunfire at a school this year,
according to Everytown, a gun control advocacy group. It seems
sure to reignite a debate over gun control in the 2020
Wegener confirmed the suspect posted a message on his
Instagram account before the shooting that said: “Saugus have
fun at school tomorrow.” The post was later taken down.
Emergency personnel remove an injured person following a shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California. Picture: David Crane/The Orange County Register via AP/African News Agency (ANA)
The two slain students were a 16-year-old girl and a
14-year-old boy. Two other girls, aged 14 and 15, were wounded,
as was a 14-year old boy, Wegener said.
Investigators said they did not yet know what led the
student to open fire at the school 40 miles (65 km) north of Los
Police said the accused shooter had acted alone.
Investigators descended on his family home, blocking off the
street. They found no further danger there.
Ella Cabigting is embraced by her father Emerson as they reunite following a shooting at Saugus High School that injured several people in Santa Clarita, California. Picture: Ringo HW Chiu/AP/African News Agency (ANA)
A next-door neighbor, registered nurse Jared Axen, said the
suspect had seemed introverted, quiet and sad, possibly
despondent over the loss of his father from a heart attack in
Axen, 33, said it was the boy who found his father deceased,
not long after the older man had regained his sobriety and
gotten his life "back on track" after years of struggling with
"I would say he (the boy) was hurting and couldn’t ask for
help," Axen said of the suspect, who was a track athlete at the
school, involved in Boy Scouts and liked the outdoors, going on
hunting trips with his father.
Flowers are placed in front of Saugus High School in the aftermath of a shooting in Santa Clarita, California. Picture: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP/African News Agency (ANA)
He was of mixed race, born to Japanese-born mother and white
father, with an older sister who became a nurse and moved away.
"I would ask him how school was ... he would never bring up
concerns of bullying or being a loner there," Axen said.
There was no immediate word on where the teen gunman
obtained the weapon.
"How do we come out of tragedy? We need to say 'No more!'
This is a tragic event. It happens too frequently," said Captain
Robert Lewis of Santa Clarita Valley sheriff's station, striking
an emotional note in an otherwise somber news conference.
Students stand outside of Saugus High School after reports of a shooting in Santa Clarita, California. Picture: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP/African News Agency (ANA)
A 16-year-old Saugus High School junior named Pamela, who
spoke to Reuters on condition that she not give her last name,
said she was in her first-period choir class when some girls ran
into the room and said there was a shooting going on.
"Our teacher immediately grabbed a fire extinguisher and got
us into her office and locked the door," Pamela said, adding
that one of the girls had been shot in the shoulder.
Taylor Hardges reported seeing people running in the
hallways shouting "Run!" She raced into a classroom, where a
teacher barricaded the room.
"We've had drills. It doesn't prepare you for the real
thing," she said after reuniting with her father at a designated
spot in Santa Clarita's Central Park.
Flowers and cards are placed in front of Saugus High School in the aftermath of a shooting. Picture: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP/African News Agency (ANA)
Her father, Terrence Hardges, said he felt his heart race
after Taylor texted him from inside the classroom with the
message: "I love you. I'm pinned in a room. We're locked in."
It is the second tragedy in just over two weeks for Santa
Clarita, a city of around 210 000 in a large brush-covered
valley. The Tick Fire forced 50 000 people to evacuate in the
valley and closed schools in the area, including Saugus. Central
Park, the reunifcation point for the shootings, was the command
control center for the wildfire.