Santa Clarita High School shooting suspect described as 'good, quiet kid'
The suspect is currently hospitalized with a gunshot wound and is in critical condition. He was a junior at the school and it was his birthday. No motive had been identified for the shooting yet.
The suspect from the deadly school shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita has been reportedly identified as 16-year-old student Nathaniel Berhow. CNN reported that two different law enforcement sources have said that the shooter is Berhow, who is currently hospitalized with a gunshot wound and is in critical condition. He is a junior at the school and it was his 16th birthday. No motive had been identified for the shooting yet. Authorities said they have no indication the boy was acting on behalf of any group or ideology. Police have not publicly identified the shooter because he’s a minor.
The alleged shooter, believed to be Berhow, is said to have marched into the school on Thursday, November 14, before classes began at 7.30 am and fired his .45 caliber weapon and killed two students and wounded three others before he shot himself in the head. Berhow is a half-Japanese, half-American student whose family lives in Valencia, California, two miles away from the high school. Authorities estimated that the suspect took just 16 seconds to pull out the weapon, shoot five classmates and turn the gun on himself.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva had said the shooter was a student at the school but did not identify him. The sheriff said a biography on an Instagram account believed to belong to the teen contained the posting: “Saugus, have fun at school tomorrow.”
According to CBS2, a student had reported the Instagram bio to the police before the shooting. “We found an Instagram account, like in their bio,” student Ryan Payae told the news outlet. “It said ‘Saugus have fun at school tomorrow,’ so I got like speechless and I didn’t know what to do, so I reported it to the police.”
Another student described the shooting while inside the school. “All of a sudden, we hear this distinctive sound outside, so my teacher quickly sprang to his feet,” student Mason Peters told CBS2. “(He) got up, locked the door, asked one of the students to get the keys. So we reinforced it. Turned off all the lights. Then we got a bunch of desks and stuff and reinforced the doors. And then we all stayed hidden.”
According to friends and neighbors, the student being identified as a suspect was a "quiet kid". Ryan McCracken, 20, who was a former childhood friend of the alleged shooter said that they grew apart over the years after he "went his own path." "We were friends when I was ... a little kid. We would just play in the yard, the backyard," McCracken told KTLA. "Over the years we stopped talking – it was like a disconnect between us. He just went his own path."
He also said that the 16-year-old suspect's father who had passed some time ago used to make bullets. "His father passed ... a little over a year go. His dad – I know he used to make bullets, so I'm assuming he had guns and stuff like that," McCracken said. Jared Axen, another neighbor said that the boy may have been having a tough time in life. "From what I understand, the suspect had been the one who had found his father's body inside the house. You're always looking, as a community, for ways you can reach out to the person next to you, someone you know is going through something," Axen said. "What's hard is that the answer you sometimes get is, 'Oh, I'm fine.' You need to be willing to press them for information." He added that it was "so surprising" and that he had been a "quiet, kind person"
The teen's school records show that he was athletic and a smart student on honor roll. Joe Fitzpatrick, a senior who helped the teacher in the boy’s physics class, called him a “good, quiet kid” who didn’t miss assignments and did well on tests. “He just seemed like one of those regular kids,” Fitzpatrick said. His father is described as a service engineer who loved game hunting. According to AP, his father had been arrested in June 2015 for domestic battery.
As we had previously reported, at least five victims have been reported in the incident, according to Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff. Henry Mayo Hospital in Santa Clarita Valley said they are treating four individuals, three males and one female, of whom two males and the female are in a critical condition. Three other students who were injured are in stable condition. A 14-year-old female and a 16-year-old male victim have died from the shooting.