Hundreds of residents came together in gatherings across Santa Clarita Valley hours after a student opened fire at his classmates at Saugus High School before classes began Thursday, killing a 15-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy and injuring three others before shooting himself in the head.
At Central Park, less than a mile away from the campus, students comforted each other around a makeshift memorial of balloons, candles and flowers.
Hannah Schoopieg-Gutierrez, 15, said no amount of tribute will bring back her classmates who died. But she wanted to show support for their families.
"Even though as many candles and flowers that you can put down… It doesn’t [change] the fact that they’re dead, but it’s to help the families because I know that if my mom lost me, I know that she would be absolutely devastated..." Hannah told KTLA.
She added, "It just gives you time to think about all the times where you could’ve done something to help the kid—guilt in a way," referring to the shooter.
Hannah, 15, said candles and flowers at Thursday evening's vigil at Central Park won't bring back the students who died in the #SaugusHighShooting. But she wanted to show her support for their families https://t.co/RN6Xqx82Ha pic.twitter.com/rglfXJ8tRt
— KTLA (@KTLA) November 15, 2019
Authorities on Friday identified the girl who died as Gracie Anne Muehlberger, whose friends and family posted tributes on social media.
Her brother tweeted, "my heart is killing me right now, you are the best sister I could’ve asked for, I just know you’re my guardian angel now." Loving messages also poured in on what appears to be the teen's Instagram account.
Dominic Blackwell, 14, was later identified by coroner's official as the other student fatally shot.
Joshua Mourthi, who was wearing his junior ROTC uniform at Central Park on Thursday night, described the 14-year-old boy as a close friend he's known for nine years.
Mourthi said he started running and telling others to leave the campus when he heard shots at the quad, where his friend happened to hang out.
"He liked to joke around," Joshua said of the 14-year-old victim. "If you’re having the worst day, he could always make you smile... He loved Spongebob."
At the nearby Bouquet Canyon Church, parent Gus Gomez attended a prayer vigil with his daughter, a student at Saugus High.
"It’s very sad what happened," Gomez said. "We want to be around people that will give us comfort, give [the children] comfort."
A pastor at that church, David Beaver, graduated from Saugus High in 1986. He described Santa Clarita as a tight-knit community.
"We just wanted to be available," Beaver said.
Like some of the students, mourner Jamee Brandt thought about the victims as well as the 16-year-old shooter.
Authorities said the suspect, Nathaniel Tennosuke Berhow, died just after 3:30 p.m. Friday.
"I’m so broken for the families," she said. "Even the mom of the shooter. Very, very tragic that somebody is in our community with that much pain."
KTLA's Kimberly Cheng contributed to this report.
Editor's note: Authorities previously provided the wrong age for one of the victims. This post has been updated.
All @HartDistrict schools closed Friday. Counselors are available to support parents and students today from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Grace Baptist Church, 22833 Copper Hill Drive.
— SCV Sheriff (@SCVSHERIFF) November 15, 2019