Police: Teen shot 1 classmate, missed another in California high school
Police officers were called to the school at about 9 a.m. local time Thursday.
January 10th, 2013
09:15 PM ET

Police: Teen shot 1 classmate, missed another in California high school

  • Student, 16, walked into class late and fired at two classmates with 12-gauge shotgun, critically wounding one and missing the other at Taft (California) Union High School on Thursday morning, police say
  • Teacher was struck in head with pellet, but is OK, sheriff says
  • Police: Suspect put gun down after teacher and "campus supervisor" talked to him; wounded student airlifted to hospital

[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.

[Updated at 4:46 p.m. ET] Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was wounded in a 2011 shooting during an appearance in her home district in Arizona, made this comment on her Facebook page about Thursday's high school shooting:

"(My husband) Mark and I are saddened by the news out of California. Our thoughts and prayers are with the students and
families of Taft Union High School."

[Updated at 4:28 p.m. ET] U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, released this statement about Thursday morning's shooting:

"Today comes word of another tragic shooting at an American school. I have visited this school over the years-in fact, my own father attended Taft Union.

"At this moment my thoughts and prayers are with the victims, and I wish them a speedy recovery. But how many more shootings must there be in America before we come to the realization that guns and grievances do not belong together?"

[Updated at 3:58 p.m. ET] "What this teacher did was heroic," U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, whose district includes Taft, tells reporters at a news conference there.

[Updated at 3:55 p.m. ET] Classes are expected to resume on Monday, an official said at a news conference in Taft.

[Updated at 3:52 p.m. ET] The teacher apparently was struck in the head by a pellet, but appeared fine, Kern County Sheriff Don Youngblood told reporters.

Besides the student who was shot, a second student - suffering possible hearing damage because the gun was fired close to her - also was taken to a hospital, Youngblood said.

A third student sustained minor injuries when she "fell over the tables" trying to leave the classroom, Youngblood said.

[Updated at 3:41 p.m. ET] The 16-year-old suspect - a student who missed the start of his first class Thursday morning - walked into school in the middle of first period, walked into class and shot a 16-year-old fellow student with a 12-gauge shotgun, Kern County Sheriff Don Youngblood told reporters moments ago.

The shooter then said the name of a second student and fired at that second student, but missed, Youngblood said. The teacher in the class tried to usher students out of the class - there were about 28 students there - and engaged the shooter in conversation, according to Youngblood.

That teacher and another person - a "campus supervisor" - continued to talk to the shooter, and eventually the shooter put the shotgun down, Youngblood said. Police officers then arrested the shooter, Youngblood said.

The student who was shot was taken to a hospital and is in critical condition, according to Youngblood.

[Updated at 3:07 p.m. ET] Officials are preparing to allow the school's students to leave the property and connect with their parents, many of whom have gathered there, CNN's Kyung Lah reports from the scene.

[Updated at 3:05 p.m. ET] Ray Pruitt of the Kern County Sheriff's Office says he doesn't know whether there was any relationship or connection between the shooter and the victim.

[Updated at 2:35 p.m. ET] U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a Republican whose district includes Taft, released a statement:

"I am deeply saddened and troubled by news of the shooting," it said. "(My wife) Judy and I offer our prayers to the victims, their families and the entire Taft community."

[Updated at 2:19 p.m. ET] A student shot another student with a shotgun Thursday morning at a Southern California high school, said Ray Pruitt of the Kern County Sheriff's Department.

The shooting happened in the science building at Taft (California) Union High School near Bakersfield, Pruitt said. The wounded student was airlifted to a hospital, and a suspect is in custody, he said.

Earlier, the county's fire department said two people were hurt, though it also said the second injured person had "minor" injuries and refused medical treatment.

Details of what led to the shooting weren't immediately available. Pruitt said he didn't know whether the shooting happened in a classroom. Law enforcement officers were going through the school to "make sure we don't have suspects outstanding," Pruitt said.

Taft is about 25 miles southwest of Bakersfield and 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

[Initial post, 2:03 p.m. ET] Two people are hurt and a suspect is in custody following a shooting Thursday morning at a California high school, officials say.

The shooting happened at Taft (California) High School near Bakersfield, the Kern County Fire Department says. One person was transported to a medical center, and a second person - who is said to have suffered minor injuries - refused medical treatment, according to the fire department.

Kern County Sheriff's Department officials were going room-by-room to secure the school, according to CNN affiliate KERO.

Students at the high school "have been evacuated to another area of the campus," the fire department said on its Facebook page.

For more on this story, go to KERO.

soundoff (888 Responses)
  1. everettreb

    So Robin Underwood are you saying that we should not fix the real problems and in stead just fix it so that our kids are only maimed and wounded? And no the real problem is not guns.

    January 10, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mark Lawrence

    What happened to the day when you could get the news with no political spin and all the darn tweet garbage?

    January 10, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bill Thompson III

    No sir. Shrink not needed. Im not the one shooten. I'm a southern boy and youll notice all shootings are in the west and east.

    January 10, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ptran

    If there are no GUNS around. None of this happened!!!!

    January 10, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Igor

    Ban morons! Not guns...

    January 10, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. orlop

    What was Gabby going to say..she was thrilled? And of course again the pandering "hearts and prayers" phrase

    January 10, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. rsh

    US representatives saying guns and grievances do not belong together. Hmmm...aren't we involved in more conflicts than our military can handle right now?

    Now, if she would have said guns in the hands of the mentally ill do not belong together i think she would have been more accurate. Guns aren't the real problem, they are a symptom. One of the problems is the way we handle mental illness. And, we over-medicate with dangerous, LEGAL pharmaceuticals that have very real and very dangerous side effects. Guns are taking the blame for systemic issues, greed, lack of engagement of our population as they are more interested in facebook than engaging their own children.

    I really think we all need to take our head out of sand and quit applying band aids and infringing on our liberties and start trying to FIX the problems. Guns are truly not the problem...they have been in the hands of the american people for generations, how is it the source of the problems now?

    January 10, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      No guns are not a symptom, they are the problem. Every nation has mentally ill people, stressed people, hyped-up teens, gang conflicts, etc. What they don't have is easily obtainable guns in so many households, and so what they also don't have is a murder rate approaching anywhere near our nation's rate.

      The reason for our nation's murder rate is guns, plain and simple, and the reason for the guns is an interpretation of the second amendment that is more expansive than at any time in our history, to the point of elevating it above all other amendments in a quasi-religious-like manner.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Doe

    Oh, okay. So all of these other mass shootings could have been prevented if someone would have just approached the gunman and had a nice little chat? Perhaps if the principal at Sandy Hook had offered the gunmen a cup of coffee and a shoulder to cry on, we wouldn't be morning the deaths of those teachers and students? Seriously! Are you anti-gun people going to tout this case as the solution to the gun problem in schools? Just talk it out! This is a RARE occurrence and you are an absolute idiot if you think the norm should be trying to talk a crazed gunmen out of killing someone!

    January 10, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Skeeter

    I tell you what da governdment gonna take our guns. Just cause I like to go squirrel huntin wit my fully atomatic rifle ain't mean I gonna shoot no one up. Down wit the liberal media is wut I say. Obama gonna take my guns wut next Obama gonna take my sketty and ketchup for lunch to? Wut about dem damn Mexicants takin all ar American jobs dey can just ggggiitttt oouuuttt!!

    January 10, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Vince

    AR-15, 28 dead... check!

    January 10, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. CW

    Gabby Giffords has ZERO to do with this story. Please stop fawning over this woman every time you can. I wan't to know the facts, not your agenda.

    January 10, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • what

      It's just something she's strongly advocating against...so yea no relevance. DOLT.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • anchorite

      She was shot in the head by an assassin. You don't think that has something to do with what just happened here?

      January 10, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer


      Gabby Giffords has a FAR GREATER idea of what it's like than you do. Trying to downplay her is an indication of your lack of sympathy for this gun victim.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • UHhello

      Ummmm both innocents un armed and shot at by a stranger carrying a gun in a public place? Seems to me that she has a lot to do with this story? Why do you hate her so much?

      January 10, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Junior

      No kidding. At least the nut jobs like her cant blame it on assault rifles. See all you liberals? It doesn't matter what guns you take away, people with the will, always find the way.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paula

      TOTALLY AGREE! everytime someone fires a gun...there she is!

      January 10, 2013 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • george

      No...only people kill people....guns don't....

      January 10, 2013 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bill Thompson III

    Pat, Im not int politics and you get rid of violence by shooting these guys first and asking them questions later.

    January 10, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Frank

    I know. Lets make it GUN FREE ZONE!?

    Oh yeah. THEY ARE ALREADY GUN FREE ZONES. You think just maybe people with guns go to schools to kill people because they know no one there can SHOOT BACK or defend themselves?

    Gee.... I wonder.

    January 10, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • anchorite

      No they're not. There's an armed officer in every high school and junior high in my city, and I'd be REAL surprised if almost every state wasn't the same way. You must not have graduated the gun free elementary schools if you think that applies to every school.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Derek

      Or perhaps it's because they are students. Duh.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Looper

      They are going to school with a gun to hurt or kill someone, and they don't care if it's a gun free zone. Just like the death penalty, it does not stop people from killing others.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • robert Martin

      Yeah, and had the teacher had a gun, she could have blown the kids head off in a nano second! What a teachable moment that would have been.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Iñigo Montoya

    We should really look at improving spelling and grammar in our schools before allowing people to graduate!

    January 10, 2013 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Chris

    He tried to kill, now let's try to kill him. Attempted murder should bring the death penalty just like murder does.

    January 10, 2013 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Looper

      Your idea is useless. death penalty has not prevented any crime.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
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