TAFT, Calif. — A 16-year-old student armed with a shotgun walked into a rural California high school on Thursday, shot one student and fired at others and missed before a teacher and another staff member talked him into surrendering, officials said.
The teen victim was in critical condition, and the suspect, whose pockets were stuffed with ammunition, was still being questioned Thursday evening, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said.
The suspect used a shotgun that belonged to his brother and went to bed Wednesday night with a plan to shoot two fellow students, Youngblood said.
Surveillance video shows the student trying to conceal the gun as he entered Taft Union High School through a side entrance after school had started.
When the shots were fired, teacher Ryan Heber tried to get the more than two dozen students out a back door and engaged the shooter in conversation to distract him, Youngblood said. Campus supervisor Kim Lee Fields responded to a call of shots fired and also began talking to the teen.
"They talked him into putting that shotgun down. He in fact told the teacher, 'I don't want to shoot you,' and named the person that he wanted to shoot," Youngblood said. "The heroics of these two people goes without saying."
The armed officer usually on campus was snowed in and wasn't at school, officials said. Police arrived within 60 seconds.
The shooter didn't show up for first period, then interrupted the class of 28 students.
Youngblood said the suspect alleges the two students he targeted had bullied him for more than a year.
About 900 students attend the high school. Taft is a community of about 10,000 people.
Wilhelmina Reum, whose daughter Alexis Singleton is a fourth-grader at a nearby elementary school, got word of the attack while she was about 35 miles away in Bakersfield and immediately sped back to Taft.
"I just kept thinking this can't be happening in my little town," she told the Associated Press.
"I was afraid I was going to get hurt," Alexis said. "I just wanted my mom to get here so I could go home."