[Updated at 7:09 p.m. ET] An armed police officer is assigned to the school but he wasn't at the school at the time of the shooting because snowfall in the area prevented his arrival, authorities said.
[Updated at 7:03 p.m. ET] A mother of a student witness recalls the moment that her daughter called her after the shooting: "She was telling me, 'Mom, get here, there’s blood everywhere," the woman CNN affiliate KERO.
[Updated at 5:55 p.m. ET] Here's more quotes from Kern County Sheriff Don Youngblood, from the news conference earlier this afternoon, about the teacher and the campus supervisor who apparently talked the suspect into dropping his weapon:
“When (the teacher) started a dialogue, the shotgun, he said, was pointed in several different directions. He is unsure how many rounds were fired … . He said as the dialogue started with him and the campus supervisor, who was just outside the room, the student was still armed with the shotgun. They, I think, probably distracted him in a conversation, allowing students to get out of the classroom and ultimately talking the student down.”
Youngblood added: "To stand there and face someone that has a shotgun – who has already discharged it and shot a student – speaks volumes for these two young men, and what they may have prevented. They could have just as easily tried to get out of the classroom and left students, and they didn't. They knew not to let him leave that classroom with that shotgun, and they took that responsibility on very serious, and we're very proud of the job they did."
The school district's superintendent told reporters that the school's staff had just reviewed lockdown procedures earlier Thursday morning.
[Updated at 5:42 p.m. ET] The news conference ended more than an hour ago, but we wanted to give you some longer quotes from officials about how a teacher and a "campus supervisor" - a campus monitor on the school's staff - talked to the suspect until, authorities say, the suspect put down the weapon.
After the suspect shot one student and missed another, "the teacher at that point was trying to get the students out of the classroom and engaged the shooter – who had numerous rounds of shotgun shells … in his pockets – engaged the suspect in conversation," Kern County Sheriff Don Youngblood said.
“A campus supervisor showed up, was outside the classroom, and together they engaged in conversation with this young man, and at one point he put the shotgun down, and police officers were able to take him into custody,” Youngblood said.
Here's what Taft Police Chief Ed Whiting said about the teacher and the campus supervisor:
"We want to really commend the teacher and a campus supervisor for all they did to bring this to a very quick resolution before anybody else was harmed. ... They did a great job in protecting the kids, and we can't thank them enough for what they did today."
U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, whose district includes Taft, also praised the teacher.
"I first want to commend the teacher. I think he saved many lives today. His actions, his time, his ability of what he did (to) protect the students there," McCarthy said.
McCarthy also praised law enforcement for responding quickly. Youngblood said Taft police officers were at the school within 60 seconds of a 911 call.
Brett McGurk, President Obama's pick to be the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, has withdrawn from consideration following revelations about questionable conduct, an administration official said Monday.
The personal conduct of McGurk (pictured) came under intense scrutiny since flirtatious e-mails exchanged with Wall Street Journal reporter Gina Chon were made public.
The e-mails appear to show that the two carried on an affair while they were stationed in Baghdad in 2008. They later married.
Chon recently resigned her position at the newspaper in the wake of the controversy.
Senate negotiators were unable to work out a comprehensive deal on extending the payroll tax cut and instead are proposing a two-month extension, two sources told CNN on Friday.
The possible deal still needs approval from the full caucuses of both parties, which are meeting Friday evening.
[Updated at 8 p.m. ET Thursday] Try to act like you haven’t heard this before: The U.S. government is days away from a potential partial shutdown.
For the eighth time in calendar 2011, Congress must approve at least a stop-gap spending measure because it failed to authorize spending for a full fiscal year. The current temporary measure ends Friday, and if Congress fails to act, a partial shutdown akin to that of 1995/1996 would ensue.
Leaders of both parties say they intend to keep the government funded. But as of Wednesday, a spending plan was held up as lawmakers argued over other issues, including possible extensions of a payroll tax cut and federal unemployment benefits.
Congressional negotiators came to an agreement Thursday night that they believe will prevent a shutdown, according to several Democratic sources. Negotiators were signing off on a massive spending bill that funds the government through October 1, 2012, they told CNN.
Both the House and Senate are expected to vote on the conference report Friday.
Temporary spending measures aren’t unusual. At least one was passed in 27 out of the last 30 years, so that Congress could have more time to develop a fuller spending plan. But this year the country averaged more than one every two months, with many of them featuring battles between House Republicans – believing 2010 elections gave them a mandate to bring budget deficits under control – and Senate Democrats over how to shrink deficits.
Here’s a look at the eight times the federal government technically came within days of losing its spending authorization this year, plus the summer debt-ceiling debate that also brought talk of a potential shutdown.
The Democratic-controlled House and Senate of 2010 failed to pass a budget for fiscal 2011, which would start in October 2010. Republicans won control of the House in November 2010 elections, setting the stage for this year's fierce budget battles.
With no full-year spending plan, a lame-duck Congress in December passed three short-term resolutions, with the final one keeping government operating until March 3.
Taking official control of the House in January, Republicans declined to pass any further spending extension, or "continuing resolution," without securing cuts as part of the deal. Freshmen Republicans, keen on slashing deficits, initially pressured their leadership to cut $100 billion from then-current spending levels.
By mid-February, the House GOP was pushing for $61 billion in cuts, which would have been partly reached by blocking all federal funding for Planned Parenthood and the president's health care overhaul, limiting the Environmental Protection Agency and cutting millions of dollars for the arts, heating subsidies and financial services regulations.
Members of the congressional "super committee" - the bipartisan panel tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in budget savings over the next decade - will likely announce Monday that they have failed, according to both Democratic and Republican aides.
"No decisions or agreement has been reached concerning any announcement or how this will end," one senior Democratic aide said. "But, yes, the likely outcome is no agreement will be reached."
Markets dropped as news spread of the panel's apparent failure. The Dow Jones Industrial Average had declined over 300 points by noon Monday.
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