Staffers Praised for Heroics in Latest School Shooting

They calmed down student gunman, prevented more casualties, say police

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 10, 2013 7:22 PM CST

(Newser) – One student remains critically wounded after this morning's school shooting near Bakersfield, California, but it's becoming clear that the quick action of two school officials prevented a greater tragedy, police say. The AP, LA Times, and Bakersfield Californian agree on the general sequence: A 16-year-old student burst into a classroom in Taft Union High School, shot a student in the chest, and missed hitting another. The victims were thought to be specific targets. The teacher, identified as Ryan Heber, began talking to the shooter while making sure the rest of the students were safely evacuated. A campus supervisor soon arrived in the classroom, and they convinced the shooter to put down his gun—which he had been waving around—before police arrived.

  • Sheriff: "The heroics of these two people goes without saying," says Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood. "They could have just as easily ... tried to get out of the classroom and left students, and they didn't. They knew not to let him leave the classroom with that shotgun."
  • Teacher's dad: "His students like him a whole bunch. He's not the kind of teacher a student would try to hurt. He's definitely someone who could talk a kid down in an emergency."
  • Why? Police haven't offered a motive yet, but the AP talks to students and neighbors who say the still-unidentified shooter got teased a lot: "Trish Montes, who lived next door to the suspect, said he was 'a short guy' and 'small' who was teased about his stature by many, including the victim. ... 'I hate to be crappy about it, but that kid was bullying him.'"
  • Others hurt: Teacher Heber reportedly has a minor pellet wound to his head, and a female student might have suffered hearing damage because of a shotgun blast near her head.

Police search a home, at right, believed to be the home of the Taft Union High School shooter, in Taft, Calif., Thursday.   (AP Photo/Tracie Cone)
This image provided by the Taft Midway Driller/Doug Keeler shows officials taping off an area outside the high school.   (AP Photo/Taft Midway Driller, Doug Keeler)
This image provided by the Taft Midway Driller/Doug Keeler shows paramedics assisting the wounded student.   (AP Photo/Taft Midway Driller, Doug Keeler)
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