The suspected 16-year-old gunman who killed two teenagers and wounded three others early Thursday morning at his high school in Santa Clarita, California — before using the final bullet to shoot himself in the head— remains in “grave condition,” local authorities said Thursday.
And while the suspected shooter, reportedly named Nathaniel Berhow, is being treated for those critical self-inflicted wounds at an unnamed, nearby hospital, classmates at Saugus High School and local police are left to wonder why a teen otherwise described as a quiet, kind Boy Scout would bring a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol to school on his 16th birthday and shoot five people in a span of 16 seconds. The teen suspect has not been publicly named by police due to his age, but unnamed law enforcement sources confirmed Berhow’s name to CNN and the Los Angeles Times.
The shooting left a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy dead, though the names of the deceased have not yet been released. A 14-year-old girl, a 15-year-old girl, and a 14-year-old boy were shot but were described as being in stable condition Thursday night, according to NBC News.
Police arrived at the scene within minutes, and didn’t initially realize that Berhow — who was among the wounded at the school’s quad — was also the suspected shooter. He was transported to the hospital as police carried out their manhunt in the foothills surrounding the school, believing a gunman was on the run after shooting six students.
It’s not yet clear what motive Berhow may have had for the fatal shooting, or where he acquired his gun. Paul Delacourt, the assistant director of the Los Angeles FBI field office, said there's no indication that he was acting on behalf of any group or ideology. Berhow’s girlfriend and mother have both been interviewed by police, authorities said at a news conference Thursday
“The younger Scouts really looked up to him,” Aidan Soto, a 10th-grader, told the Los Angeles Times. “He was there when they needed him with anything. I’m bewildered and looking for answers.”
Berhow’s unnamed teammate on the school’s cross country team even described him to CNN as "the sweetest kid you'll ever meet."
His father, Mark Berhow, died in 2017 and was described in his obituary as an avid sportsman and a big-game hunter. One neighbor told the Los Angeles Times that Berhow would sometimes accompany his father on hunting trips, and that the death hit him hard. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Thursday that authorities are chasing “all the leads available” and will work with authorities to seize hard drives and scrape social media pages. A search warrant has already been served at the suspect’s residence. Meanwhile, an Instagram account that appeared to be linked to the suspected shooter has been confirmed as a hoax, and the social media company took it down, according to BuzzFeed News.
Cover: Emergency personnel remove an injured person following a shooting at Saugus High School, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2015 in Santa Clarita, Calif. (David Crane/The Orange County Register via AP)