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What we know about the Saugus High School shooting suspect

Alejandra Reyes-Velarde, Brittny Mejia, Ruben Vives and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. -- The Saugus High School student suspected of shooting five people on campus -- killing two -- on his 16th birthday was described by neighbors and classmates as a quiet kid.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department received a call at 7:38 a.m. Thursday and minutes later arrived at the Santa Clarita school to find six students with gunshot wounds, including the suspect. They were all transported to a hospital, where a 16-year-old female student and a 14-year-old male student died.

The suspect, identified by neighbors and law enforcement sources as Nathaniel Berhow, is in the hospital in "grave condition," according to Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who said a school security camera on the quad shows the boy pulling a .45-caliber handgun from his backpack and shooting the students before putting the gun to his own head.

Sheriff's Capt. Kent Wegener said he watched the surveillance video and counted how long the shooting lasted. Within about 16 seconds the shooting was over, from the time the shooter drew a handgun from his backpack to the time he was on the ground with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, he said.

The teen seemed aware he was down to his last bullet when he shot himself, Villanueva said. Detectives are working with federal agents to examine papers, hard drives and anything he wrote on social media or in messages to understand his motivation.

Investigators are looking into what they believe to be the subject's Instagram account. Underneath a pseudonym, the bio read: "Saugus have fun at school tomorrow."

 

A neighbor who said she has known the suspect's family for years said she was stunned.

"All I can tell you from what I know is they were wonderful, wonderful people," the woman, who asked not to be identified, said. "I don't understand it. It doesn't make sense."

The woman said the family had lost a loved one recently and that took a toll, but they were good neighbors.

"He was in Scouting, he was in track and a very kind, sweet boy," she said of the suspect. "I don't understand the psychology."

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