The 16-year-old student who pulled a gun out of his backpack and opened fire at his California high school, killing three classmates and injuring two others, before attempting suicide has been identified.
Nathaniel Berhow was taken into custody and rushed to hospital where he is in a grave condition after the deadly shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, about 40 miles from Los Angeles, on Thursday morning.
Authorities said they responded to a torrent of 911 calls when the gunfire began at about 7.30am and they found all six students in a quad area within the school.
Surveillance video captured the attacker pulling a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol from his backpack, firing at his five classmates and then shooting himself in the head with the final bullet.
Two 14-year-old boys and a 16-year-old have died, while two girls, aged 14 and 15, were injured and remain in hospital.
The gunman, who was initially mistaken for a victim, is also in hospital in a grave condition.
Berhow’s mother, Mami Matasuura, said she was praying her son survived.
‘I don’t even know what to do right now, I am just praying for my son’s life,’ she said.
Authorities are still investigating but a former friend said the 2017 death of Berhow’s father, who he claimed was an alcoholic, could have triggered the shooting rampage.
Nathaniel Berhow was taken into custody and rushed to hospital where he is in a grave condition after the deadly shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, about 40 miles from Los Angeles, on Thursday morning
One of the five students shot in the early Thursday morning attack at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California, is seen before wheeled on a gurney
Medical personnel load an injured person into an ambulance outside Saugus High School in Santa Clarita
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva did not identify the gunman but said he was a student at the school and that he was celebrating his 16th birthday the day of the attack.
The school was locked down and witness descriptions and surveillance footage identified the suspect within an hour of the shooting.
Officers went to his home and his mother and girlfriend were at a local police station speaking with detectives.
No other suspects are currently being investigated.
Authorities said a search warrant was being obtained for the suspect’s home to collect possible evidence.
A childhood friend of Berhow’s – who only identified him by his first name to KTLA, described him as being quiet and introverted, adding that he had lost his father about year ago.
The former friend, named Ryan, revealed that the suspect’s father died about a year ago and speculated that his death might have triggered the violence.
The friend claimed that the boy’s late father drank heavily and also made bullets. He said Berhow’s father was a ‘really nice man who was willing to help people’.
SWAT officers were seen entering the suspect’s house in Santa Clarita, California, near Saugus High School where a mass shooting took place this morning, leaving two students dead
This photo from video provided by KTLA-TV shows law enforcement personnel outside a home on Sycamore Creek Drive during the manhunt for the suspected school shooter
LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva confirmed 15-year-old suspect’s capture in a tweet
Ryan said he knew the suspect in middle school and said he didn’t really socialize. He last would have spoken to Berhow six years ago.
‘We were playing the backyard… over the years we stopped talking, there was a disconnect (between us),’ he said.
‘He was doing his own thing. It’s a shock to all of us. His father passed a year ago or something like that.’
Asked if there were weapons in the home, Ryan said: ‘His dad used to make bullets, so I’d assume he had bullets and stuff like that.’
It is understood that Berhow became more of an introvert after his father’s death.
Neighbors claimed Berhow’s father had a passion for guns but it is not clear if the teenager had access to weapons.
The Berhow family’s next-door neighbor, Jared Axen, told KTLA that he had known the suspect since he was a baby and that his father used to go hunting, so firearms ‘weren’t a mystery to him.’
He also said he believed that the suspect was the one who found his father’s body at home when he died.
Many students were in tears or on their phone with their loved ones during the Saugus High School evacuation Thursday morning
Students are comforted as they wait to be reunited with their parents following a deadly shooting at Saugus High School
Ella Cabigting is embraced by her father Emerson as they reunite after the shooting
The high school was evacuated Thursday morning after the mass shooting that killed five
Anxious parents had to wait hours to reunite with their children because sheriff’s deputies had to interview them about the shooting
Both students and parents were in tears as they were reunited in a nearby park
Emotional scene played out outside the Saugus High School campus Thursday morning
Students at Saugus High School wept while being escorted out of the school Thursday
Students and parents are pictured at a reunification center following the fatal school shooting Thursday morning in Santa Clarita
‘I can’t think of any red flags in our conversation, when he would think of handling his hurt in this manner. He grew up with his father who was a hunter, and this was a normal activity for him.
‘He grew up around firearms, it wasn’t a mystery, he knew how to use it and understood how it worked, he was responsible. He came off as a very responsible person.’
Axen said he had shared interests with Berhow, including air pistols and being in the Boy Scouts at different times.
A Saugus junior named Kayden said the 16-year-old shooting suspect was an athlete, running cross-country, and ‘didn’t talk much
Kevin said he was shocked that his classmate has been identified as the alleged gunman, saying he never would have expected him to do that.
Philip Germain, a Saugus High School alum, told KTLA he is organizing a vigil for those hurt in the school shooting, which will take place at 7pm on Sunday.
Television images showed sheriff’s deputies swarming the school and several people being moved on gurneys.
Paramedics are seen administering aid to one of the shooting victims on school campus
Gunfire erupted inside Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California, Thursday morning
People are lead out of Saugus High School after reports of a shooting on Thursday
At least one person was said to have been shot in the abdomen
At least five people were said to have been wounded in the school shooting Thursday
Ambulances are parked outside of Saugus High School after reports of a shooting
Childhood friend of California school shooting suspect says he was quiet and recently lost his father
Ryan, a childhood friend of the 16-year-old school shooting suspect, said he was quiet growing up and was shaken by his father’s death a year ago
A childhood friend of the 16-year-old suspect said he believed the death of the teen’s father could have triggered the incident.
The friend, named Ryan, knew the suspect in middle school and said he was quiet and didn’t really socialize.
He claimed that the shooter’s father drank a lot and also made bullets, but his father was a ‘really nice man who was willing to help people’.
Speaking near his home, Ryan told KTLA that he had last spoken to his friend about six years ago.
‘Over the years we stopped talking, there was a disconnect [between us]. He was doing his own thing. It’s a shock to all of us. His father passed a year ago or something like that,’ he said.
Asked if there were weapons in the home, he replied: ‘His dad used to make bullets so I’d assume he had bullets and stuff like that.
He claimed the teen’s father had an issue with alcohol.
‘He had a spike, and started doing a bunch, uncontrollably,’ Ryan said.
‘It’s crazy, it shows you, you don’t know what people are going through, I guess. I wish I could’ve known what he was going through, or talk to him.’
Lines of students were escorted away from the school by armed deputies.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office sent out a tweet earlier saying officers were searching to a male suspect in dark clothing.
A student called Alexa who heard gunshots before she was evacuated with her class said she and other students just ran for their lives.
She said she didn’t hear of any warnings before the alarm went off regarding a student or know who the suspect may be.
‘I heard the first gunshot which, I felt like I was running for my life, at this moment I prayed that everyone was okay and safe.
‘We never heard of any threats or problems this suddenly happened, now we’re here getting evacuated from our school not knowing when we will be able to come back.
‘It’s a sad world we live in’ and one which cannot be controlled.’
A mother of a student at the school tearfully told KTLA her daughter called her earlier, saying that a girl burst into their classroom after being shot and other students jumped into actions, trying to stop the bleeding.
A student named Riley told KTLA5 that she was standing with friends by the library on campus when she heard four to five gunshots and started running.
One student described how his heroic teacher sprang into action as soon as he heard gunshots. Mason Peters told KTLA: ‘We heard this distinctive sound outside and my teacher quickly sprang to his feet, got up, locked the door, asked one of the students to get the keys.
People wait for students and updates outside of Saugus High School, where one student was killed
Students and others wait outside a reunification center in Santa Clarita, California
A police officer stands guard as students wait to reunite with their parents
Sheriff’s deputies stand outside Saugus High School after the fatal shooting in Santa Clarita
‘We got a bunch of desks, turned off all the lights and reinforced the doors and we all just stayed hidden.’
One student who was on his way to school when the shooting happened, said officials there had an emergency drill in the last month.
He told KTLA: ‘I was going to school when it happened, and I heard three shots and people started running. It was chaotic,
‘My sister is still in the school, she is still in the choir room and I’m waiting for her to come out.
‘We’ve had all these drills many times, they wanted us about this happening, it’s so surreal, it never felt this real
We definitely had one in the last month or so. For the most part it’s duck and cover and block.’
The mother of student Anthony Peters told NBC he was still on lockdown inside the school but had texted that he was uninjured.
‘One of the teachers said, ‘There is an active shooter. I heard the shots and saw three kids get shot,” Peters’ mother told NBC.
Some of the wounded were being treated in a grassy area on the school’s campus, the Los Angeles Times reported. At least one injured person was found in the school’s choir room, authorities told the newspaper.
Many students arrive at school later at around 7.55am as they don’t have a first period on Thursday.
A student named Sean said he was training with his team and coach when they immediately locked themselves in a room. When they reinforced the door their coach led them in prayer as they stood in a circle with their hands joined.
Sean said: ‘I was walking towards the quad where it happened, I heard the shots so I rang back to the room where I was.
‘We were all texting our parents and telling them we’re ok, we were trying to keep quiet and not make noise. We weren’t sure until our coach got a call, and they cleared the building out. After that I felt safe.’
His mom, Mercedes, said she was relieved to have her son back. She said: ‘It’s just relief, there is no real sense of knowing your child is safe until you have them in your arms. I’m just trying to calm down no. He’ll be my baby forever.’
Sean added: ‘I don’t know why these things happen, they just do. We ended up all joining hands and praying, and the comfort of knowing we were there .They took us to the gym, I love my mom so much and I didn’t know what to do.
‘We settled down and we went through it together.’
A mother of one student who was outside the school said the kids have regular drills to prepare for an active shooter situation.
Students at Saugus High School are talking about hearing shots and running for their lives
A girl in one flip-flop is being led away from the high school by a police officer
Students are seen on school buses during the Saugus High School evacuation
She told an ABC7 reporter: ‘They do multiple drills, and I always said I hate that this is the new normal but I see why now. The kids know [what to do], they should hide, shelter in place, or run if you can.
One of the students who was there with his mom claimed: ‘I know if you’re in a classroom you should just stay if there’s a teacher, if you’re already outside and really close to an exit, you should try and run but if you’re not close to an exit, you should duck into the nearest class
‘We have done lockdown drills and stuff.’
Two sisters who were outside the school with their mom appeared shaken as they told how they were reunited when the building was evacuated.
One of the girls named Emily told KTLA: ‘I never looked back, we just all kept running and people were looking for their loved ones. Everyone worked as a community it was very surprising.
‘I was like panicking the whole time, I was like my sister is in the classroom, I hope she’s ok
This map shows the location of the high school on Centurion Way in Santa Clarita, about 40 miles from downtown Los Angeles
‘I should not have to go to school and fear for my life’: Terrified student describes classmates ‘grabbing scissors’ in case they had to ‘fight back’ after gunman opened fire at a California high school
By: Valerie Edwards For DailyMail.com
Students and teachers who survived a shooting at a California high school Thursday morning are recalling the moment they heard the gunman open fire as terrified parents and grandparents wait to be reunited with their loved ones.
Brooklyn Moreno, a student at Saugus High School, said after hearing gunshots she ‘ran right out of school as fast as I could’.
Moreno told ABC News that ‘there was girls falling in front of me’ as they were all running to find safety.
Students and teachers (pictured) who survived a shooting at a California high school Thursday morning are recalling the moment they heard the gunman open fire as terrified parents and grandparents wait to be reunited with their loved ones
Parents wait to reunite with their children after the shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California
‘I was trying to help them up and then I just kept running because I didn’t want to get hurt either.’
Anxious parents are awaiting reunification with their children near the high school where authorities say a 16-year-old student opened fire, killing a 16-year-old girl and wounding several others.
Grandparents who were searching for their granddaughter, Isabella, spoke to reporters at the scene.
Isabella’s grandmother, Rosa Arreola, told NBC that they had spoken with their granddaughter who had been taken to safety at a nearby park.
The teen’s grandfather also said that Isabella’s friend was killed during the shooting.
Student Amber Miller told NBC: ‘I should not have to go to school and fear for my life… I’m not a target. And this is unfortunately Trump’s America.’
‘I’m going to stand up for gun control,’ she vowed.
Anxious parents were waiting reunification with their children near the high school where authorities say a 16-year-old student opened fire, killing a 16-year-old girl and wounding several others
Students are seen crying at a park while waiting for their parents
Students from Saugus High School in the city of Santa Clarita were taken to a park following the shooting around 7.30am Thursday.
Los Angeles County Undersheriff Tim Murakami tweeted an apology to the parents, saying investigators need to interview the students before they can be released.
A hospital reported that the 16-year-old female student succumbed to her injuries shortly after she was brought in. Two males are in critical condition and another male is in good condition.
During an afternoon press conference, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says the unidentified gunman, whose birthday is Thursday, is in grave condition at a hospital.
A video of the shooting shows the teenager shooting himself in the head.
‘She’s here now and she was hiding, she was texting that she was so scared and it was so crazy.’
Her mom told of her terror as Emily text her saying there was a shooter in the building and she immediately rushed to the scene where she waited for news.
She said: ‘She was texting me saying there is a shooter, I was like what I couldn’t believe. It hits home so it’s been really hard, I got in my car and drove right to my school, I waited and waited and finally my daughter came running out to me
‘It was the best thing ever, she was one of the first classes let out. I found out my other daughter was with her girlfriend and mom which was like a relief.’
‘My daughter Sarah told me ‘mom, I’m so scared, I love you so much, please come, please come and that just killed me
‘You don’t know where they are, if they are safe, it’s so scary, I’m so glad.’
The students were brought to the Church of Latter day saints across from the high school. From there, they were taken away from the scene to Central Park where a reunification center was set up and they were being picked up by their parents.
It is understood law enforcement are trying to find out which students witnessed the incident for future legal proceedings.
The high school and other schools in the surrounding area, including Rosedell and Highland elementary schools, were placed on lockdown, which has since been lifted in the wake of the suspect’s capture.
Earlier, police officers were seen surrounding a home on Sycamore Creek Drive, believed to be the residence of the suspect.
People were urged to the avoid the area during the manhunt and nearby residents were asked to lock their doors and shelter in place.
White House spokesman Judd Deere says President Donald Trump is monitoring the reports of the school shooting.
Deere says in a statement that those in the area are encouraged ‘to follow the advice of local law enforcement and first responders.’
Democrat congressman Tim Ryan, who represents Ohio, reacted with shock at the latest school shooting incident.
In a tweet he claimed: ‘My heart breaks for Saugus High School and the Santa Clarita community. How many more, @senatemajldr Mitch McConnell? Our children cannot keep living like this. The Senate needs to #DoSomething, we need to take action on gun violence.
Presidential candidate and California Senator Kamala Harris also tweeted: ‘Heartbroken and praying for Santa Clarita. I’m incredibly grateful to the first responders who are on the scene of this active situation.
‘If you are near the area, please listen to law enforcement. Our children and communities are being terrorized. We can’t accept this.’
Senator Dianne Feinstein urged the public to comply with emergency notices and said she was monitoring the ongoing situation.
California House Representative Katie Porter said her heart broke for families and students affected by the shooting and called for measures to control gun violence.
‘My heart breaks for our neighbors in Santa Clarita and our children, who have to grow up in a world where they can’t go to school without fear. This. Must. End. It is past time for our Senate and our President to say #EnoughIsEnough. They can start by passing H.R.8 into law,’ she tweeted.