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School Shooting Suspect: It Was His 16th Birthday

Neighbors say he was 'quiet, smart kid'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2019 5:01 AM CST
Updated Nov 15, 2019 6:33 AM CST
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Students wait to be reunited with their parents at a park following a shooting at Saugus High School, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, in Santa Clarita, Calif.   (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
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(Newser) – A teenager accused of killing two students and injuring three at a California high school was a "quiet, smart" kid, according to classmates and neighbors who have no idea why he would carry out a shooting rampage on his 16th birthday. Law enforcement sources identified the Santa Clarita suspect to the Los Angeles Times as Nathaniel Berhow. Authorities say he is in the hospital in "grave condition" with a self-inflicted bullet wound. Police say that surveillance video shows that the Saugus High School shooting lasted 16 seconds from the time the shooter took a .45 caliber handgun from his backpack and opened fire, apparently at random. Sheriff Alex Villeneuva says that when he shot himself, the teen seemed aware that he was down to his last bullet. All six students were taken to a hospital, where a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy died. More:

  • Instagram account. Investigators trying to determine a motive say they are investigating an Instagram account that apparently belongs to the teen. Before the shooting, the message "Saugus, have fun at school tomorrow" was posted. Police Capt. Kent Wegener said Friday that a third party changed the message to something else after the shooting, CNN reports. He said it wasn't clear if a friend or a hacker was responsible.

  • "One of those normal kids." A student in the suspect's physics class tells the AP that he seemed like "one of those normal kids." Neighbors say the suspect was an active Boy Scout who was on the school track team. He was a "quiet, to-himself kid," says next-door neighbor Ryan McCracken, 20. "You wouldn’t expect anything like that from him."
  • "Super nice" parents. Neighbors tell the Orange County Register that the suspect lived with his mother, who is originally from Japan. Both parents were "super nice" but the father, who was "really into guns," died in 2017, McCracken says. Neighbor Jared Axen says the son was the one who found the body. Police records show that the father was arrested in 2015 on suspicion of attempted battery on his wife.
  • "We heard screaming." Students say when they heard gunshots around 7:30am, they followed the lockdown procedures they were taught on their first day at the high school. "We heard screaming, and instinctively, we told everyone to get down," Anthony Matic, 17, tells the Santa Clarita Valley Signal. "I was just worried that the shooter might come to our classroom, and we might have to do something about it."
  • Bill Clinton calls out Trump. USA Today reports that the former president, who was impeached in 1998, said President Trump needs to work with Congress on gun control legislation despite impeachment proceedings. "You got hired to do a job. You don't get the days back you blow off," Clinton said.
(Read more school shooting stories.)

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