“Hold your children tight. Love them. Praise them for being responsible in the face of fear.” These words from Saugus High School’s Deputy Superintendent Mike Kuhlman are a sample of the strong emotional reactions left behind by the shooting which took place at Santa Clarita, California, high school on Thursday.
The unfortunate event caused the death of a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy, who died in the hospital a few hours after the attack at Saugus High School.
The three teenagers who survived being shot at the Santa Clarita, California, high school Thursday are all on the road to recovery, officials said. They were a 15-year-old girl, a 14-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy
Officials reported that the three teenagers, who survived to the attack, are all expected to survive.
One of the students injured, a 15-year-old girl, was shot below the bellybutton and has a bullet lodged in her hip. Another 14-year-old girl was shot in the shoulder and abdomen while the injured 14-year-old boy has already been released from the hospital, officials said.
How it happened
Around 7:30, when students at the school were starting their first-period classes, Nathaniel Berhow a male student, on his 16th birthday, was in the school courtyard when suddenly he took out a a .45-caliber handgun pistol from his backpack and shot five classmates and then himself.
Captain Kent Wegener of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told reporters that the whole event took about 16 seconds.
Paramedics rushed onto the campus, treating the wounded, and law enforcement officers searched nearby neighborhoods for a 16-year-old boy they thought had fled after the shooting. Authorities later said the suspect, identified by neighbors and sheriff’s officials as Nathaniel Berhow, was found on campus with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Officials said he was taken to a hospital and is in grave condition.
The scene at the school at 21900 Centurion Way was confusing, with teenagers walking in a line behind armed law enforcement officers with their arms raised in the air. Many of the injured were treated on campus before being taken to ambulances in the school’s parking lot.
One of the wounded girls was taken to choir teacher Kaitlin Holt by other students where she gave her first aid and called 911.
“I should have never had to treat a gunshot wound as a choir teacher,” said Holt. “And there’s something really wrong and something has to change, ’cause I held a bleeding child today in a room with 40 sobbing children.”
The consternation and dismay caused by this recurrent and regrettable act of violence has marked with profound pain the life of an entire community.
The shooting “shook every one of us to our core,” said Superintendent Mike Kuhlman.
The search for answers
“We have not yet established a motive or a nexus between the subject and his victims other than to say that they were all students at the high school together,” Wegener said.
Authorities said that so far there is no evidence to suggest the suspect acted on behalf of a group or with any co-conspirators.
Investigators were alerted to a social media page after the shooting that purportedly belongs to the suspect and contained a post that read, “Saugus have fun at school tomorrow.”
“I can confirm that that was posted to his account, and I can also confirm that it has been changed since this incident, which means there is somebody else that has access to this account , be it a hacker, be it a friend that has his password,” Wegener told reporters. “That was posted at one point. We are aware of it and we are researching the source, when it was posted and when it was taken down.”
The suspect’s mother and girlfriend are both speaking with detectives, according to authorities.