Home International 16-year-old Californian boy celebrates birthday by gunning down two classmates

16-year-old Californian boy celebrates birthday by gunning down two classmates

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He saved the last bullet for himself. It was his 16th birthday.

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

birthday.

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

said.

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

presidential election.

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

Angeles.

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

December 2017.

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

alcohol abuse.

“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.

Reuters