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. zan

    It just goes to show you that the lethality of a weapon depends as much on the shooter as it does on the design. The kid could have easily killed at least a quarter of the class and he did not have an assault rifle or extended magazine. I don't know what could have prevented this but this proves how pointless a ban on assault rifles and extended magazines would be.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      If you have to take a test to own a car, have a test to own a gun. No politics, no scapegoat, no restrictions. Just the same song and dance as the good ol DMV, why couldn't we try this?

      January 10, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sagebrush Shorty

    Was it an "assault shotgun" Ms. Feinstein? Or can't you answer that?

    January 10, 2013 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark C

      No, half-wit, which may be why only 2 were killed.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark C

      Sorry. 2 shot at. None killed.

      You really are remarkably stupid if you think your observation that it wasn't an assault weapon helps your case.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. empresstrudy

    Was it a semi automatic assault shotgun?

    January 10, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bubba

    What does CNN have 10 ways to post comments?

    January 10, 2013 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. maxbrady

    Let's just arm everyone with anything they want, guns, SAM's, RPG's, whatever. Thus; I predict mankind will become extinct within a few short weeks and no one will have to worry about anyone taking anyone's "arms", or what the founding fathers meant, or anything. And they all died happily ever after. The End.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don

      Good point MAX. Lets arm everyone. Let us not be emotional about it. Afterwards, not everyone will be dead. There WILL however be a reduction in the weak lemmings in this country that will surrender their weapons to the president, spelled with a small p., Im just thinking.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Just the Facts

    If you live anywhere where the cops take over 1/2 hour to respond, believe me you want a gun for self-defence!

    January 10, 2013 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mo

    where is the news CNN
    Fox News

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Authorities say a Florida Panhandle man has been arrested after he tried to rob a convenience store with a cattle prod but was thwarted by a clerk with a gun.

    The Leon County Sheriff’s Office says 26-year-old Lance Tomberlin went into a store just outside Tallahassee on January 2, produced the cattle prod and demanded money from the clerk. Officials say he shocked the clerk several times before the clerk pulled a handgun.

    Authorities say Tomberlin fled and another employee tried to restrain him, but he eventually escaped in his truck. Deputies stopped Tomberlin’s truck but he fled on foot.

    The sheriff’s office says Tomberlin was arrested Tuesday and charged with armed robbery and aggravated battery.

    Jail records didn’t say if Tomberlin had an attorney. He was being held without bail

    January 10, 2013 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Exactly

      Get real, were talking about the epidemic of massacres vs some guy not getting robbed, a man with an non-lethal weapon.... he can always get money back, you can't get those children's lives back.... grow up.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark C

      So your point is what, half-wit? Did anyone die or even get seriously hurt?

      January 10, 2013 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. pvm

    Too much of anything is not good and that includes "freedom"

    January 10, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • freedom is as freedom does

      There are lots of tattooed women with handcuffs willing to help you with that problem.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. sebastian

    Media, video games... These kids have been desensitized to violence and practically trained for it in killing simulators at their homes hundreds of hours a week. We are training little bombs. Some of them are going to go off once in a while.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just the Facts

      Ultra-violent video games probably are a BIG part of this.

      What do you expect when these crazy games teach kids it's ok to blow everyone away?

      January 10, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      That's idiotic. You're looking for a scapegoat. Video games do not encourage real life violence. It's an asinine correlation.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Media Darling

      Thats right its guns and video games and movies and music. Its not the broken home, the unattentive parents, the lack of discipline and general lack of supervision they have to respect others to know right from wrong. The fact that MILLIONS of people play games own guns and do so responsiably means nothing to the handful of people that dont.
      Your the kinda person that would blame a fast food place for making someone fat. If people in this country took some personal accountability and stopped being so self involved things like this wouldnt happen. But my kid is perfect id pay attention to him and teach him right from wrong but im more interested in being outraged at guns right now.

      *note i dont actually have a kid

      January 10, 2013 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. NNN

    Sounds like the shooter had a score to settle with just two students and was not there to create a massacre and commit suicide. The so-called victims were probably bullies and got what they had coming to them.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Greg

    So much for the NRA belief that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. scarf

    But, the NRA says the teacher should have shot him...........

    January 10, 2013 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Lee Oates

    It's about time for America to get past its early adolescent phase and regulate guns. It"s time to grow up.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • brian in dc

      Need to up the viewing age of violent movies to 25.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Corey

    Good thing they didn't work at a gas station or fast food place because they probably would have been fired. I guess the time has come for all schools to have metal detectors. Just how poorer schools have been doing that for decades. Sad really. I'm glad I was a kid before all this madness.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. trex

    ,,,,,,,except, nobody died yet....................RIGHT, NRA...?

    January 10, 2013 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24