Thursday , April 22 2021

3 off-duty officers dropped off their children at a California school. Seconds later, gunfire erupted – CNN, CNN


(CNN)Three off-duty officers dropping off their children Thursday at a Southern California school rushed in seconds after gunfire erupted, quickly giving first aid and likely saving lives ina shooting that left two dead, authorities said.

The shooter opened fire atSaugus High School in Santa Clarita, killing two students and wounding three others before turning the gun on himself. The suspect –a student at the school– allegedly carried out the attack on his th birthday.

Two victims, ages 16 and 14, died at a hospital. The suspect is hospitalized in critical condition, authorities said.

One of investigators’ largest tasks will be figuring out the motive, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told CNN’s “New Day” early Friday.

    “There’s nothing really that stands out (with The suspect). He wasn’t a loner. Wasn’t socially awkward. Was involved in student activities. Student athlete, “Villanueva said. “This is kind of out of the blue, shocking pretty much everyone who knew him.”

    Students are escorted out of Saugus High School on Thursday after reports of a shooting.

    The weapon apparently jammed, sheriff says

    The shooting added Santa Clarita toa growing list of citiesaffected by gun violence in what’s becomea recurring nightmarein the United States.

    The shooter walked into the school’s quad area Thursday morning carrying a backpack. He retrieved a. 45 – caliber pistol without saying a word and fired one round, Villanueva said.

    After shooting one student, he cleared a jam on the weapon and fired an additional four rounds at others, then himself.

    “That ended it all in 16 seconds, “the sheriff added.

    It’s unclear where the suspect got the gun, Villanueva said.

    Officers entered the school within seconds

    The first people at the scene were three off-duty law enforcement officers who were dropping off their children at the school, Villanueva said.

    Detective Daniel Finn of the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station was driving away when he heard gunshots andsaw terrified children run out. He turned his car around and rushed into the school, the sheriff said.

    In 46 weeks this year, there have been 44 school shootings

    Officer Sean Yanez of Inglewood police and LAPD’s Gus Ramirez also rushed to the scene, Villanueva added. All three were off-duty and entered the school within seconds, he said.

    “It’s a tragedy every way you look at it, but there’s a silver lining behind this: the fact that off-duty first responders were there and did not hesitate … and they rendered first aid immediately, “the sheriff said.

    The officers saw a gun and figured the threat was likely over and focused on saving victims, he said.

    The suspect has been identified as Nathaniel Berhow, two law enforcement sources told CNN. His father died in 2017 of natural causes, and he lived with his mother.

    There appears to be no connection between the suspect and the victims other than all were students, the sheriff said.

    “He wasn’t chasing anyone,” Villanueva said. The victims “appeared to be who was around him, available at the time.”

    Investigators are digging into his social media and background, he said.

    D.J. Hamburger, a teacher at Saugus High School, comforts a student after the shooting.

    Students hid in strangers’ homes

    Student Brooklyn Moreno was waiting for her first class to begin when the first shot rang out.

    “Everyone thought it was a balloon, and it got really quiet. And then two more shots, and then everyone just ran out of the school, “she toldCNN affiliate KCBS.She ran across a street to someone’s house until she was picked up.

    Larry Everhart was leaving his house to get coffee when he saw screaming students sprinting down his street.

      “They were saying, ‘Can I come in your house?’ It was about 20 of them. I wanted to make sure they were safe, so I got them in there, “he told the affiliate.

      Saugus High School has 2, 400 students and is 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

      CNN’s Cheri Mossburg, Jason Hanna, Steve Almasy and Joe Sutton contributed to this report.

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