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. Savior Jesus

    Second Amendment shall not be infringed
    It's getting ridiculous, They know that school is a good target why not get all those airport scanner and install it in every school in the USA/world.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • W.G.

      To Quote the murdering right wing teapartier NRA Where are we gonna get the money ??

      January 10, 2013 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Booseyboo

      That is not just a tea party quote.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mike

    America get a clue the bible speaks of this generation.....unruly! This is suppose to happen as America is suppose to erode. The Gooberment cant stop or change the bible. Gods in control.....not the U.S. Gooberment.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Booseyboo

      God is not control. It has written that certain events will happen but it isn't God who is directing it but rather he allows us to have free will to do as we choose.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. scarf

    Be careful what you ask for. Mental illness is defined by what we decide is abnormal. The behaviior of "mentally ill" people is no different than that of "mentally healthy" people. Their behavior varies only in degree. For example, it is normal to go back in the house and check to see that you turned off the faucet before going to work. It is abnormal to do the same thing fifty times. Some people may consider owning 5 guns normal, but owning 50 guns to be a sign of paranoia (unless the guns are true antiques). Come to think of it, maybe mental health checks is a good way to cut down on the number of "gun nuts" out there.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Just the Facts

    How do you know if the video games played in other parts of the world are just as widespread, just as real, and just as ultra-violent? Proof?

    January 10, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. commonsenseMan

    So what will talk of banning shotguns now ? banning weapons just makes the criminals change weapons like now in the UK they use knives ..crime is crime people...address crime not weaponry

    January 10, 2013 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. All

    Doesn't look like the kid was insane. Sounds like he acted out a revenge fantasy because he had a gun. Guns give the weak the power to kill. No wonder they are so popular. Screw getting picked on or loosing an argument. Or being a looser , just get a gun. If your a scares little weakling, just get a gun.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. themo

    True, we need new gun laws, but PARENTS, sit down with your children & explain that killing another human being is
    final, there's no looking back. If you love your children as I know you do, please, sit down with them we cannot afford to lose one more precious life.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Booseyboo

      You seem to think that ALL parents love their children. Anyone can produce off-spring but not all are parents.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. demis

    I lived in a country that had guns banned from the general public and criminalized possession of firearms.
    I never ever heard of anyone actually seeing a gun in their whole life let alone getting shot with one.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TF

    This story is not blazing across every TV station. Many websites aren't even putting this story front and center. Why you might ask? No one was killed. The body count did not continue to rise as the day went along. It wasn't "news worthy". I am not sure if gun laws will help or not. I "DO" however think that the media should be outlawed from sensationalizing these horrific events. The weak, sick individuals that commit these crimes feel the need for this pathetic type of stardom. Take that away and they have nothing to kill for. I don't blame guns. I blame the people who pull the trigger and the media for making the shooter the hero.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. John Maroney

    The shotgun was pointed in several different directions? Gotta get me one of those.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Terrence Nicholson

    The folks on here who think their right to bear these weapons trumps other folks right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are the ones in need of mental health intervention. Paranoia runs deep. Round them up, take away their guns and get them the help they need.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Spencer

      Pro tip: Murder is already illegal.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • sanity

      Over 50% of gun murders are committed by an identifiable group that is 12% of the US population. Maybe that is where we should focus our efforts, right? Oh, yeah, they are almost all Democrats.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Awesome Dobson

      Good luck rounding people up sonny!

      January 10, 2013 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • SillyBean

      Such nonsense ... "Your right to bear arms is trumped by my right not to be shot." Oh how the feeble minded are so easily won over by a "catchy slogan" ... Do you eat coco crisps as well? The ownership of any firearm does not in any way impede on yours or anyone's right to "not be shot." Your right to not be assaulted (regardless of the weapon) stands and is only imposed on by those who would willingly break the law anyways. ERGO, both our rights are autonomous of each other and one can not trump the other since they are in no way related on any scale whatsoever.

      January 10, 2013 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      In the same fashion your rights do not trump mine. It is my right to possess a fire arm. The only difference is that you think the government can protect you. How many people have the police saved in these shootings.... NONE. How many did the civilian save? The government can't protect you. It hasn't protected you and it stands to reason it will harm you if its profitable. So why do you trust government to save you now?

      January 10, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reply

      How many Americans are killed each day by teen drivers who have no license? And are we talking about banning cars? No. Taking guns away from law abiding citizens will not stop the insane from doing harm upon the innocent.

      January 10, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Terrence Nicholson

      Alex Jones and just about every other spokesman they've rolled out since the CT massacre have proved over and over that these folks are insane. And anyone who thinks the founding fathers intended every American to have access to automatic weapons IS insane! Why not bazookas? Anti-aircraft guns? Tanks? What about shoulder launched atomic weapons? Like I said, these folks are insane, a danger to themselves and society and there is no point wasting time or breath arguing with them. Take away their guns and get them the mental health intervention they need.

      January 10, 2013 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Citizen Veteran

    I see the anti-gun pitchforks have made their predictable appearance, but please note, this shooter had a shotgun. A shotgun, something no one with any common sense has proposed banning. The point is, no matter whether you're talking about a Bushmaster or blunderbuss, it doesn't really matter. The real failure is our mental health system, exacerbated by the rampant economizing caused by ruthless profit taking in corporate America. The medical corporations, slaves to their shareholders take every aspect of quality out of medical care in order to pander to investors. Then the insurance companies take advantage of people any way they can to make a buck for the same reason. Patients are LAST. ALWAYS.
    So in a desperate move, many of those cry out for the help they aren't getting in their seemingly desperate situations, where they feel alone, and they are, because medicine has abandoned them. They use a gun, or drive a car info a crowd, or push someone in front of the subway, it doesn't matter. Society is failing these people in the name of profit, and they are becoming the monsters we deserve.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kinoeye

      Yes, and please note that no one died in this attack. The damage was limited because it wasn't a high-powered assault rifle. Can we get rid of those, please?

      January 10, 2013 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tim

    Apparently, it is not true that the only thing to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. And apparently, good guys don't always need guns to stop a violent act.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Awesome Dobson

      What these two have done is remarkable.

      I like the outcome and wish it ended like this instead of what we have seen in the past.

      I still think there is a time and place for ending a problem like this with a gun but I am thankful this was not one of those instances

      January 10, 2013 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rahul G.

    US society is sick. Many causes. No one cure.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. alibifire

    Schools are soft targets – when are we going to put well-trained security personnel/police officers in all schools? Schools need security that is armed and present – my kids both went to H.S. that had police officer embedded at the school. The presence of a cop with a gun has an amazing effect on these types of people...it simply just doesn't happen. Additionally, an terrorist could walk into half the schools in this country and light them up – and our President has trouble with putting security in schools??? Sounds like politics to me...

    January 10, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • scarf

      Schools aren't the only targets. Ever see an armed guard at church services? Put guards wherever you want, there will still be soft targets for the bad guys. So make guns harder to come by and less lethal.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
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