A teenage gunman opened fire at a Southern California high school Thursday morning, killing two students and wounding three others, before shooting himself in the head, officials said.
The suspect, whom authorities described as an Asian male and who turned 16 Thursday, was in “grave” condition at a hospital, Los Angeles County authorities said.
Multiple law enforcement sources told NBC News the suspected shooter was identified as 16-year-old Nathaniel Tennosuke Berhow.
The students who died were a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy. All of the victims and the suspect attended Saugus High School in Santa Clarita.
Three other students — two girls, 14 and 15, and a 14-year-old boy — were also shot in the school’s quad before classes began Thursday, officials said.
“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,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a news conference after finding out the second student had died.
First responders arrived at the school within two minutes of the initial report of the shooting just after 7:30 a.m., Villanueva said.
A .45 semi-automatic pistol with no bullets left in it was recovered from the scene, and investigators were obtaining a search warrant for the suspect’s home. They were also interviewing his girlfriend and his mother.
Investigators said they believed the shooter acted alone, and had not determined a motive.
Authorities searched for the suspect after the shooting, not immediately realizing that he was one of the six people wounded.
“If you live in neighborhoods anywhere near Saugus High, PLEASE LOCK DOORS and stay inside,” the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Office said in a tweet before the suspect was identified. “If you see suspect, male dark clothing, in backyards, etc. CALL 911.”
“Parents, deputies are on scene everywhere protecting your children,” the sheriff’s office said.
The Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s office tweeted just before 8 a.m. that the public should avoid the area of Saugus High School, about 40 miles north of Los Angeles. Minutes later, the office said people were reporting that shots had been fired at the school.
One student, Sharon Orelana Cordova, told NBC Los Angeles that she was doing homework when she saw people running so she started running, too. “When I got out, I saw this person lying down on the ground, and I saw blood all over. It was really scary, I was really, really scared. I didn’t know what was going on,” she said.
Saugus was placed on lockdown as were neighboring elementary schools and all of the schools in Saugus’ William S. Hart Union High School District, officials said.
Aerial video showed students with their hands raised, being escorted by deputies away from the school of about 2,300 students, NBC Los Angeles reported. They were transported from the campus on school buses with armed deputies on board.
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SOURCE: NBC News – Elisha Fieldstadt