2 Students Dead, Several Others Injured After School Shooting In California
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Today another instance of gun violence at an American high school - this time, in suburban Los Angeles. Authorities say a student at Saugus High School opened fire, killing two students. He also wounded three others and then himself. LA County sheriff Alex Villanueva spoke to reporters at the park where survivors were reuniting with their parents.
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ALEX VILLANUEVA: I hate to have Saugus be added to the names of Columbine, Parkland, Sandy Hook. But it's a reality that affects us all throughout the nation, something we're going to have to deal with.
SHAPIRO: Reporter Kyle Stokes from member station KPCC joins us now. He is in Santa Clarita, where the shooting took place.
KYLE STOKES, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.
SHAPIRO: I gave the rough outline of the events today, but tell us more about what authorities say happened.
STOKES: Well, so the LA County sheriff's office received the call at 7:38 this morning reporting an active shooter on the campus at Saugus High School. The sheriff's investigators have actually reviewed surveillance tape at the school, and they say it clearly shows what happened. A male student on school grounds in a quad area - this is California, so you've got a lot of open, outside areas of the school. This male student pulled out a .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol out of his backpack, and then he opened fire, hitting five other students before then turning the gun on himself.
SHAPIRO: And what can you tell us about the victims?
STOKES: Well, we don't know much. Authorities have only so far confirmed the students' genders and ages and the fact that they were all students. The two who died were a 14-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl. The three students who were wounded in addition to the shooter were a 14-year-old boy, a 14-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl. Now, the shooting took place before second period at Saugus High School was supposed to start, and one eyewitness told me that a lot of younger students who didn't have first period classes would commonly gather in this quad around that time of the day.
SHAPIRO: And the suspect, the alleged gunman?
STOKES: Well, so far - also, the authorities have only released the suspected shooter's age and gender - that he's a 16-year-old male. The only specific detail - and it's not one that you'd typically hear at a press conference at a shooting like this - is that today is the suspected shooter's birthday. But there is no word from the authorities about any possible motive that this gunman - alleged gunman - might have had in carrying out this act.
SHAPIRO: In that clip of tape from the sheriff that we heard at the top of this conversation, he mentioned that this school in suburban Los Angeles is now added to a long list of campus shootings. They feel like they happen so much more frequently than they ought to. How common are these events?
STOKES: Well, so there are statistics on this. They're kept by the Gun Violence Archive, and that organization says this is the 38th shooting this year alone at an elementary or secondary school in the United States. They also say that this is the fifth such mass shooting at a school this year, the Archive defining a mass shooting as an event which four or more people are shot.
And this feeling that this is common came out of my conversations with parents and kids today, who I think had a pretty good idea of what to do. One student described using a computer cart to barricade herself and her classmates into a room. One parent said his son pulled a fire extinguisher off of the wall to use as a potential weapon to defend himself before also barricading himself in a classroom. One parent told me his son simply fled the campus. None of them said they expected this type of event to happen at their school in an area that they considered safe. But once it did happen, Ari, it's pretty clear that they knew how to protect themselves.
SHAPIRO: That's reporter Kyle Stokes of member station KPCC joining us from Santa Clarita, Calif.
STOKES: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.