A 16-year-old student armed with a shotgun walked into class in a rural California high school Thursday and shot one student, fired at another and missed, and then was talked into surrendering by a teacher and another staff member, officials said.
The teen victim was in critical but stable condition, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood told a news conference. The sheriff said the teacher at Taft Union High School suffered a minor pellet wound to the head and declined treatment.
The gunman had as many as 20 rounds of ammunition in his pocket, the sheriff said.
When the shots were fired, the teacher tried to get the more than two dozen students out a back door and also engaged the shooter in conversation to distract him, Youngblood said. A campus supervisor responding to a call of shots fired also began talking to the gunman.
“They talked him into putting that shotgun down. He in fact told the teacher, ‘I don’t want to shoot you,’ and named the person that he wanted to shoot,” Youngblood said.
“The heroics of these two people goes without saying. ... They could have just as easily ... tried to get out of the classroom and left students, and they didn’t,” the sheriff said. “They knew not to let him leave the classroom with that shotgun.”
The shooter didn’t show up for first period, then interrupted the class of 28 students.
Investigators had not yet had a chance to interview the student and so had no immediate word on a motive or whether the attacker had a previous disciplinary record. Nor did they know where he got the shotgun.
The sheriff’s department did not release the boy’s name because he was a juvenile and had yet to be charged. But many students and community members said they knew the boy and said he often was teased.
Officials said there’s usually an armed officer on campus, but the person wasn’t there because he was snowed in. Taft police officers arrived within 60 seconds of first reports.