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School shooting in suburban Santa Clarita, CA

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2019-NOV-14: School shooting In Saugus High School:

On Friday morning, his 16th birthday, Saugus student, Nathaniel Tennosuke Berhow, shot five fellow students -- apparently selected at random. This happened over 16 seconds at about 7:38 AM in an open-air quad at the Saugus High School. The school is located in Santa Clarita -- a suburb of Los Angeles, CA. Two students, Gracie Anne Muehlberger, 15, and Dominic Blackwell, 14, died at the scene. Three students were wounded and later recovered. The shooter wounded himself in his head with his gun's last bullet. The events were captured by a security video camera at the school. Berhow died the next afternoon in hospital. His motive was unclear.\

A fellow student, Madi Roeschke, who hid during the shooting, said:

"In some of the drills from last year, they taught us to arm ourselves with anything that we could, such as scissors, chairs, any heavy objects, just in case the shooter were to find us. ..."Of course it was very hard, and a traumatic experience. But with the state of America right now, with gun control not being strict enough, with kids being able to access guns so easily, it didn't surprise me."

Police recommended that people who felt distressed about the shooting may consider phoning a distress centre, like the confidential phone line operated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (Samhsa). It covers the United States including territories: "Call 1-800-985-5990 to connect with a trained crisis counselor, 24/7. Spanish-speakers can call the hotline and press “2” for 24/7 bilingual support."

An extensive list of "school shooting resources" is available from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

Stevanie Dazio and John Antczakf, writing for AP News, said that "Friends and neighbors described ... [Berhow] as bright, funny, quiet, and above all, normal."

He was a Boy Scout, was in a swimming group, and had a girlfriend.

Capt. Kent Wegener of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said that the homicide unit conducted over forty interviews and searched his home. Wegener said that:

"We did not find any manifesto, any diary that spelled it out, any suicide note, or any writings."

Marissa Randazzo is a CEO of a threat-assessments firm, and a former chief research psychologist at the U.S. Secret Service. She has found that most of the five shooters that she studied were academically successful and were not social outcasts. She said that:

"What pushes most shooters is some kind of loss or disappointment, often recent, followed by the inability to cope with a feeling of being overwhelmed."

"These are acts of suicide as much as homicide."

Berhow used a .45 caliber semi-automatic "ghost" pistol that someone had assembled from gun parts in a kit. It did not have a serial number and was unregistered.

On Sunday,NOV-17, a vigil was held for the victims. More than 10,000 people attended. School classes were canceled and will be resumed on DEC-02 after Thanksgiving break.

Santa Clarita, where Saugus High School is located, is a relatively wealthy city of 200,000 people in Los Angeles County, with a median household income of more than $90,000.

Former Congresswoman Katie Hill, who graduated from Saugus High School in 2004, said that several volunteers and interns for her campaign attend school there.

Hill, who until recently represented California’s 25th district, which includes Santa Clarita, expressed anger about inaction in Congress on passing gun laws in a statement.

Former Congresswoman Katie Hill (D), graduated from Saugus High School in 2004 and represented California's 25th District which includes Santa Clarita. She commented on mass shootings in the U.S., saying that:

“I went to Washington to change things. ... And in the House, we did our job. Four different pieces of legislation passed in the House, with more on the way. These bills would have saved lives — but they are not currently law because the Senate, led by Leader Mitch McConnell (R), refuses to even [allow a] vote on these bills.”

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today:

  1. "Santa Clarita School Shooter Dies in Hospital," Time, 2019-NOV-16, at:
  2. Stevanie Dazio & John Antczak, "California school shooter dies with motive a mystery," AP News, 2019-NOV-16, at:
  3. , "Santa Clarita school shooting: teen used unregistered ‘ghost gun’ in attack," The Guardian, 2019-NOV-21, at:
  4. Kristin Lam, "Santa Clarita gunman used unregistered 'ghost gun' in Saugus High School shooting, sheriff says," USA Today, 2019-NOV-22, at:
  5. Holly Yan, A California school shooting survivor says 'I wasn't surprised that it happened," CNN, 2019-NOV-18, at:
  6. Mahita Gajanan and Abby Vesoulis, "'It's Going to Be Hard to Forget,' Students Describe Chaos and Horror of Santa Clarita School Shooting," Time, 2019-NOV-15, at:

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Copyright © 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2019-NOV-24

Author: B.A. Robinson
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