An as yet unidentified 16-year-old showed up late to his science class at Taft Union High School Thursday morning armed with a shotgun , intending to confront two male classmates he felt had been bullying him, CNN reports.
One student was shot and as of Thursday night is in critical but stable condition. As students fled, the gunman fired another shot, but missed. Before the student could inflict any more harm, the science teacher, Ryan Heber, and a campus supervisor, Kim Lee Fields, managed to talk him into putting his weapon down.
“They stood there face-to-face (with the gunman) not knowing whether he’s going to turn that shotgun on them,” said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood.
Heber suffered a pellet wound to his forehead from one of the shots fired earlier while two girls were injured in the resulting commotion. One fell over a table trying to flee the room while the other girl was taken to a hospital with hearing damage due to her proximity to the shotgun blast.
An armed police officer is usually assigned to the school but was unable to make it in yesterday because of snowfall in the area. A resident who lives near the school saw the assailant walking towards the school with a gun and alerted authorities.
According to Youngblood, the student planned the shooting the night before, using a gun that belonged to his 19-year-old brother. While being questioned, the student claimed he was a victim of bullying and had called out the name of the boy before he shot him. Youngblood said he wasn’t sure if any actual bullying occured between the Taft High School students, but “certainly he (the shooter) believed that the two people he had targeted had bullied him.”
The teen will be charged as a juvenile with attempted murder, though it will be up to prosecutors to decide whether he should be charged as an adult.
The shooting in Taft occurred the same day Vice President Joe Biden met with representatives of the NRA as part of his work to develop a plan to reduce gun violence. Biden is the head of a task force created in response to the Newtown shooting and will present his proposals to President Barack Obama, who is committed to a national ban on assault rifles.