A 16-year-old student at a California High School allegedly had a hit list before going on a shooting rampage, but was talked out of following through with the list after he shot his first victim.
The shooter claims that his victim, who is in critical but stable condition at a Kern County hospital, had been bullying him for over a year, according to authorities.
Students said the violence came just minutes after administrators at Taft Union High School announced new lock down safety procedures prompted by the Newtown, Conn., school slayings.
“Just 10 minutes before it happened our teachers were giving us protocol because of what happened in Connecticut,” said student Oscar Nuno. He said he was across campus when an announcer on the PA system said the school was under lock down “and it was not a drill.”
Due to the quick thinking of teacher Ryan Heber and campus supervisor Kim Lee Fields, who coaxed the student to hand over his shotgun.
“I don’t want to shoot you,” he told the popular teacher.
Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said the confrontation was enough of a distraction to give 28 students time to escape their classroom. Youngblood said the suspect’s pockets were stuffed with more ammunition upon his surrender.
“This teacher and this counselor stood there face-to-face not knowing if he was going to shoot them,” Youngblood said. “They probably expected the worst and hoped for the best, but they gave the students a chance to escape.”
Heber’s forehead was grazed by a stray pellet, but Youngblood said the teacher was unaware that he was hit.
Trish Montes, the boy’s neighbor, described the suspect as “a short guy” and “small” who was teased by many about his stature. Montes said her son had worked at the school and tutored the boy last year.
“All I ever heard about him was good things from my son,” Montes said. “He wasn’t Mr. Popularity, but he was a smart kid. It’s a shame. My kid said he was like a genius.”
The teen victim was expected to have surgery on Friday, Jan. 11. Youngblood said the suspect felt bullied by the victim for more than a year, a claim the sheriff said was still being investigated.
The teen went home and plotted revenge against two students Wednesday night after finding a gun that authorities believe belonged to the suspect’s older brother, Youngblood said.
“He planned the event,” Youngblood said. “Certainly he believed that the two people he targeted had bullied him, in his mind. Whether that occurred or not we don’t know yet.”