Nov. 15 (UPI) — A 16-year-old student accused of opening fire at a Southern California high school and killing two people died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound Friday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office said.
The suspect, Nathaniel Berhow, died at the hospital, one day after the shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, Calif. The sheriff’s office said his mother was with him when he died.
Investigators said the boy opened fire in the school’s quad with a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun, striking five students in less than 20 seconds. They said surveillance video showed he carried the gun in his backpack.
He then shot himself in the head.
“From the time that he withdrew the handgun from his backpack to the time he was on the ground with a gunshot wound to his head, was about 16 seconds,” Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Capt. Kent Wegener said.
Police identified the dead students as 15-year-old Gracie Muehlberger and 14-year-old Dominic Blackwell. School officials said the three other wounded students were in stable condition.
Neighbors and acquaintances told KTLA-TV the shooter’s father had died just over a year ago.
Quick action from a detective and two off-duty officers who were dropping off their kids at the school on Thursday helped save lives, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said.
When they heard gunfire and rushed to the scene, they saw the gunman was down and immediately started helping the victims.
“Off-duty first responders were there and did not hesitate, turned around and went right into the source of the gunfire to attempt to neutralize it, and they rendered first aid immediately,” he said.
Mike Kuhlman, deputy superintendent of the Hart Union High School District, told parents in a statement to praise their students actions during the shooting.
“The gun violence experienced across our nation, and all too often on school campuses, has prompted our district, like others, to conduct staff and student trainings for these unthinkable events,” he said. “Placing a priority on their students’ safety, our wonderful Saugus High School team were quick to order students to shelter in place, and your students responded. Praise them for their responsible behavior, especially in the face of overwhelming fear.”
All district schools were closed Friday and counseling was offered to students and staff.
Paul Delacourt, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, said the bureau is aiding in the investigation and that there’s no indication the shooter had any accomplices.
Investigators had not determined a motive for the attack.
Thursday’s attack was the 44th school shooting this year in the United States.