SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (KTLA) — A student allegedly opened fire on five classmates, killing two of them, before shooting himself in the head at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita on Thursday, the day of his 16th birthday, authorities said.
The shooting, which happened at 7:38 a.m., prompted a massive response by law enforcement to the campus at 21900 Centurion Way, according to officials with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Several students transported to local hospitals, where two of the victims — a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy — later died, according to officials. Neither has been identified.
One male student remained in critical condition at Henry Mayo Hospital, while a fourth patient was hospitalized in good condition.
Two female gunshot victims, ages 14 and 15, were transported to Holy Cross Providence Hospital, according to authorities.
They were reported to be in good to fair condition, said hospital spokeswoman Patricia Aidem.
The suspect was among the six wounded, according to Villanueva. He was taken to a hospital and, as of early Thursday afternoon, is listed in grave condition. Authorities said they could not confirm that the suspect was the boy being treated at Henry Mayo.
Early reports of the number of victims from the shooting ranged from four to as many as seven. The Los Angeles County Fire Department later confirmed six patients total were transported to local hospitals.
Saugus High is in a suburban area about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
Suspect allegedly shot 5 others, himself
The two students who died were 16 and 14. Their names were not released.
The shooting triggered a massive response from deputies and a shelter-in-place order as law enforcement combed the area for the gunman.
Eventually, they realized the suspect was among the students who had been taken to local hospitals after interviewing witnesses and combing through video, one of which apparently showed the incident unfold.
“Detectives have reviewed the video at the scene which clearly shows the subject in the Quad withdraw a handgun from his backpack, shoot and wound five people and then shoot himself in the head,” sheriff’s Capt. Kent Wegener said at a late-morning news briefing.
Authorities have not released the name of the 16-year-old, saying only the shooting took place on his birthday.
A weapon has been recovered. Villanueva described the gun as a .45 caliber semi-auto pistol.
Investigators have executed a search warrant at the suspect’s home in a nearby residential neighborhood, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
A SWAT team unit and several other vehicles could be seen parked outside a house in a nearby residential neighborhood shortly after 9 a.m., Sky5 video showed.
The suspect’s mother and girlfriend are being interviewed as detectives try and determine a motive, according to Villanueva.
The FBI is assisting with the investigation.
Undersheriff Tim Murakami said investigators are looking into rumors the alleged gunman possibly posted threats to social media prior to the shooting.
“If you ever learn of posted threats please notify us ASAP,” he tweeted. “It will result in an immediate investigation. We have successfully prevented possible acts of violence as a result of such reports.”
Suspect in custody after intense search
The shooting triggered a massive police response and a shelter in place area as law enforcement combed the area for the gunman.
By 9:40 a.m., the male suspect was in custody and transported to a local hospital for treatment, Sheriff Alex Villanueva confirmed.
Earlier, the sheriff told KTLA that the department had identified the suspect, saying he appeared to be a student. Villanueva did not release his name.
A SWAT team unit and several other vehicles could be seen parked outside a home in a nearby residential neighborhood shortly after 9 a.m., Sky5 video over the scene showed. It was unclear if that was where law enforcement found the suspect.
‘We ran as fast as we could’
Students described a chaotic scene when gunfire erupted on campus before the start of classes. An 11th grader told KTLA she was outside of the library with friends when they heard five or six gunshots ring out.
“I heard a bullet hit the wall right next to where we were standing. … We ran as fast as we could,” said the student, who identified herself as Riley. “There were hundreds of us just running as far away as possible.”
Braden, a 10th grader, told KTLA the situation unfolded right after his mother dropped him off at school.
“As soon as I found out, I saw the kids running,” he said. “I knew it was serious, so I just ran back to my mom’s car.”
Some students hid in their classrooms while their frightened parents frantically rushed to campus.
“They’re texting us that they’re hiding in closets, they’re scared to die,” one mother said as she held her daughter, who was among the first wave of students to get off the campus.
Another parent told KTLA she received a text message from her daughter as she was preparing to head out to work.
“She told me, ‘Mom, I’m so scared. I love you guys so much. Please come, please come,’” the woman told KTLA. “That just killed me.”
Schools placed on lockdown
All campuses in the William S. Hart Union High School District were placed on lockdown amid the search for the gunman. By 9:15 a.m., the lockdown had been lifted for most schools except Saugus and Arroyo Seco Junior High School.
The Castaic Union School District also placed all of its campuses on lockdown as a precautionary measure.
Students will be interviewed by investigators before being released to their parents, Undersheriff Tim Murakami tweeted.
Parents are being told to pick up their students at Central Park at 27150 Bouquet Canyon Road or Bouquet Canyon Church at 27000 Bouquet Canyon Road.
Government officials react
White House spokesman Judd Deere says President Donald Trump is monitoring the reports of a school shooting at a high school in Santa Clarita, California.
Deere says in a statement that those in the area are encouraged “to follow the advice of local law enforcement and first responders.”
Governor Gavin Newsom issued the following statement:
“I am closely monitoring the incident at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita this morning, and my Administration is working in close coordination with local law enforcement. Jennifer and I extend our thoughts to the parents, families and friends of the students and faculty, and the Santa Clarita community.”
Senator and presidential candidate Kamala Harris issued the following statement on Twitter:
This story will be updated.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.