TAFT, Calif. (KTLA) — A suspected gunman is behind bars and a student is in critical condition after a shooting at a high school in Taft, Calif., near Bakersfield.
Authorities said a 16-year-old boy armed with a 12-gauge shotgun walked into a science class at Taft Union High School around 9 a.m. Thursday.
“He then interrupted the class half-way through it armed with a shotgun. He fired the first round, striking another student,” said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood.
The wounded student, also 16 years old, was airlifted to Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield. The student remains in critical but stable condition.
Police said the suspect then fired at another boy in the science class, but missed.
A teacher, identified as Ryan Heber, was able to talk with the student long enough to get him to set down the shotgun and move most of his students to safety.
Youngblood said that, at one point, the shooter told the teacher, “I don’t want to shoot you.”
Officers arrived and took the teen into custody by 9:20 a.m. A shotgun was recovered at the scene, sheriff’s officials said.
Law enforcement would not confirm reports that, last year, the suspect had a “hit list” of students he wanted to shoot. But one student told KTLA the whole school knew about it.
“I guess he said that everybody bullied him,” senior Trevor White said. “I didn’t even know the kid until we got called into the office for it.”
“He went in the office, and then after that they sent him home, and he came back the next day,” White recalled.
Officials said there’s usually an armed officer on campus, but the person wasn’t there because he was snowed in.
Police arrived within 60 seconds of the first reports. Authorities said witnesses saw a suspect walking onto campus with a shotgun and called 911.
School officials said that there would be no classes on Friday, but counselors will be available for students and staff. School will resume on Monday.
Thursday’s shooting comes less than a month after a gunman massacred 20 children and six women at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.