Bullied Teen Opens Fire In CA High School, Seriously Wounding Classmate

taft-high-schoolLess than a month after the massacre in Newtown, CT, a second school shooting has made headlines, this time in the small California town of Taft, about 30 miles southwest of Bakersfield.

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.

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  • Cam

    Puts the Right wingers in a difficult position.

    1. They pretty unanimously support easy access to guns including assault rifles.

    2. They hate the idea of the victims of their bigotry and hate to be able to attack them using guns.

    Which will win out, their love for guns, or their desire to be bigots without the fear that somebody will occaisionally snap and shoot?

    As for this school, thank goodness that they were able to end this before anybody was killed.

  • Jawsch

    I know it’s a morbid thing to say, but people who are targeted due to bullying get zero sympathy from me.
    I grew up in a fairly small town in central Kentucky. (Georgetown) First openly gay person at my high school.
    I dealt with a relentless amount of harassment from students, faculty and the administration for years in middle school and high school. Consistently ignored, my parent’s pleas ignored and even once when I was attacked by a group of boys in a pickup truck with bats yelling “Die Faggot”, the police even laughed at me. (As did the school, because when it happened I was walking home from my bus stop; thus still under the school’s care)
    I ended up becoming an extremely angry teenager, mad at the world and finally started standing up for myself which ultimately landed me being suspended for my “outbursts” and having to see the psychiatrist for anger issues all the while, still not punishing a single individual for the harassment and death threats I received.
    When I was a freshman, I planned to bring a gun to my high school. Had a list of every student I wanted to see hurt or dead. It scares me to think about it, but I was once one of those angry and unstable teens. Had my parents had access to a gun, I know I would have taken it to my school. Thankfully, it never came to be and I got myself the help I needed to address my anger and emotional issues.
    These school systems bring it upon themselves. I find it hard to believe that no report was ever made of harassment or bullying and that no teacher ever witnessed anything.
    While I’m glad no one was seriously hurt, I have no sympathy for people who are targeted for bullying. Probably because I was one of those kids.
    I’m so tired of the media making the gunman the enemy and the people who bullied the kid the “victims”. What do you expect of a teenager who is at a point in life that’s emotional and crazy as it is but then throw in extreme harassment and bullying with no outlet, no one listening, no one stopping it for years. What the HELL do you expect to happen? At one point, they will get so angry, they explode and this happens.
    Wake the hell up America!

  • Daniel-Reader

    Kinda of surprising there isn’t more violence in response to being bullied. You’d think the tormented would just stab the tormentor in the eye or neck with a readily available pencil or pen to put an end to the bullying. They really need to teach kids basic self defense.

  • Aidan8

    So I guess from the NRA’s perspective, this kid did the right thing. He “took up arms” to defend himself. All we need to do is give every student (and teacher) an AR15 and full clip each morning. That would stop the bullying as well as lowering gun violence! Um…. yeah, I guess. Oh, that NRA… how can ya not love them.

  • Dionte

    Well maybe this will send a message out to people who bully, I don’t feel sorry for them.

  • ousooner1997

    I have been in the same boat as some of you above. Got a gun from my parents dresser drawer and carried it with me one night when I was being bullied by a group of guys. the only reason I didn’t shoot them was that I knew what type of trouble I would have been in if I did. but there are those in that same situation that will be pushed over the edge and it makes me wonder if some of these past shootings are in response to bullying.

  • Alan down in Florida

    The fact that he was bullied and was after specific targets makes it much more understandable to me that the teachers were able to talk him into putting down his gun.

  • toren123

    I too was bullied in school. If I came in after recess with a bloody nose, I was told by the teacher to go clean myself up, and if I wasn’t back in 5 minutes, I would get a detention.

  • 2eo

    I got a scalpel through my hand, and the teachers did nothing to punish them, this was at college.

    He picked the wrong person as he’s now on the sex offenders register. Funny how things like that work out when you have friends in the right places.

  • LadyL

    @Jawsch: The only thing more depressing than reading your account of your experiences is realizing how common it still is. I feel terrible for you that you had to endure all of that hell while no one did anything to help you Jawsch, but I’m glad you survived to tell us about it.
    As for this kid in California, if the report of his being bullied is true I hope he gets the help he really needs, not just punishment for what he did and tried to do. And I hope this incident causes some real soul-searching among the adults at that school, who apparently failed to notice this boy’s pain until he had a gun in his hands.

  • Rob

    @Jawsch: Who’s the bully? Kid A who calls Kid B a name or Kid B who blasts him with a shotgun?

  • Marjorie 0120

    There are many different reasons for bigotry, I was tormented for being a skinny, white, red haired girl in a ghetto comprised primarily of blacks and espanics. They could spot me from a block away and it appeared they got brownie points for being on the list of those that had whipped my white butt. I started carrying a gun in 9th grade, they were readily available in the ghetto. My mom never knew, actually no one knew. The reason I started was because while the black guys talked about how ugly I was, they wanted to rape me and I was not about to allow that to happen.

    I suspected my attitude changed, I was no longer terrified and knew I could defend myself no matter what. Things changed with my confidence and I never had to show the gun, not once. I had a physical fight with an espanic girl that outweighed me by 40 lbs and was quite a bit taller. My step dad had to pull me off her. It never crossed my mind to shot her, I didn’t win the fight, but the fact that beating me up was not the cake walk it had been due to my crippling fear.

    I am by no means (so don’t twist my words) suggesting that kids should be given guns for self defense, I am saying that in the right hands it can be appropriate. Most teenagers don’t come with the good sense I had and certainly not in this era of dumbing down and making excuses for behavior instead of insisting on accountability. My possession of a fire arm over the years has prevented a car jacking, being accosted on a lonely mountain rode, being trapped in a phone booth (back when they were common place, lol), and other life threatening situations. I’ve never fired a shot except on the range.

    The key is looking at mental stability, except for this instance all of the mass shooters had a history of being off, of parents, teachers, fellow students being uncomfortable in their present. But our current society is afraid the state the obvious. It’s not politically correct and you could be sued if wrong. We passed laws in most states protecting those who reported child abuse against children, with stiff penalties for maliciously filing a false report. We need to do that for mental illness as well. Unless and until we do these types of crimes will continue because only the law abiding and mentally healthy comply with laws.

  • smileyeagle1021

    Why can’t it be both? Neither party is innocent, neither party is blameless. Do I condone someone taking revenge with a shotgun? Not in the least, I hope he gets a suitable punishment for it. On the flip side, do I feel any sympathy for his target? Again, not in the least. If you don’t want people flipping out and trying to kill you, perhaps you should treat people with respect.

  • mike777

    You guys are laughable at your indifference to the victims. You assume so much about the bullying when it hasn’t been defined. If the vics said “faggot” to them everyday and never touched the perp, the perp will hopefully be charged as an adult. If the perp was beaten a couple of times, he will hopefully be charged as an adult. Point being: eminent danger and appropriate use of force.

    If he was near a gun and they were about to hit him, blow them away.
    If (as it was) it was an on going thing, but not in harms way, no reason to make it violent.

    So, what do you guys consider bullying that should result in violence?

  • amedas

    @Jawsch: I regret that this happened. It could have been avoidable (if the “bullied” pupil reported it to school authorities and the latter took action). Many teachers might feel overworked and don’t want to deal with issues unrelated to their lesson planning and delivery. But perhaps because of their training, they do not get to anticipate impending disasters that can affect them and all around them. A pupil in my lab class showed me a YT vid that another made to bully him, and I reported it to both boys’ homeroom teacher. He shrugged and did nothing. I could only control or discipline the bullying party when he or she was in my classroom, but I couldn’t protect the bullied party outside my “protective zone”. The bullied pupil came to see me often since he saw that I sympathized with him, but I couldn’t offer him any more help except to persuade the bullying party to stop the harassment. How many educators would do that? (That’s not to say that I am a saint, but bullying is a major issue in schools and all educators and administrators have to get involved).

  • gaym50ish

    I am so tired of reading that school districts are “taking steps to combat bullying.” These are statements designed to make us feel better when there’s a shooting or a suicide, not to call people to action. If they really wanted to do something, they would have a “no tolerance” policy on bullying, not on pocket knives or scissors.

    Last month, when 14-year-old David Phan of Taylorsville, Utah, shot himself near the school grounds in full view of other students, a spokesperson for the school district released a blame-the-victim statement that was completely beyond the bounds of decency, saying publicly that Phan had “issues in his personal life.” Of COURSE he had issues — he was being bullied and the school thought the way to deal with it was to counsel Phan instead of disciplining his tormentors.

  • Daniel-Reader

    The Supreme Court ruled a long time ago that the First Amendment doesn’t protect a person yelling Fire! in a crowded theater. There is no First Amendment right to bully someone with words. When you bully someone with words you take your own life into your hands. Countless people go through their lives never having to bully others, put them down, call them names. The Nazis had no free speech right to say disabled people are a burden on society and should be cremated alive (disabled people were the first victims of the Holocaust and the least remembered of all groups). Speaking is an action. Actions have consequences. Bullies have a delusional sense of entitlement, believing themselves superior to their targets. Retribution is the great leveler. The Nazis weren’t talked out of stopping their atrocities because the Nazis never believed what they were doing to others was wrong and evil. The Roman Catholic Inquisition never thought what it was doing to Jews and non-Christians was wrong. Genocidal American pioneers wiping out Native Americans never thought their mass murder of the indigenous population was evil. History is replete with examples.

  • mike777

    How were they tormenting him?

    Also, if you look at the article above, it states “confront two male classmates he felt had been bullying him” – so it’s not yet clear what they did, if anything.

  • Billysees

    @Jawsch: 2

    What you said is a powerful, rational and well described testimony about bullying and from one who was able to endure.

    It’s free from vindictiveness with no ax to grind.

    Every gay student should read it.

    It should be published on the front page of every school newspaper or publication and should be required reading for every student who enters any school system.

  • Zoe Brain

    It was long ago and far away. I was bullied. None of the things they told me about how to deal with it worked. When it’s 12 to 1, no matter how well you can take care of yourself 1 on 1, you *will* get hurt.

    What did work was only targeting the smallest and weakest of the attackers, making sure that they got hurt too. Next time there’d be 11 attackers, not 12, so you move on to the next.

    One kid got thrown under a bus -literally – by one of these gangs. They were going to throw me under a train. This was at age 8.

    Had I had access to a firearm, I likely would have used it. From an ambush position, well away from school, no-one near, and when the target was alone. I only wouldn’t have used it if no opportunity to get away with it was available.

    I did ambush one kid from behind and methodically broke his collarbone though. I was 8, he was 10. I knew what I was doing I’d read books in the library about anatomy, and this was the best way of neutralising the threat while minimising risk that I’d be in legal trouble, if the worst came to the worst.

    I can, and have, forgiven them for the knife cuts, the cigarette burns, the nose broken in three places, the broken ribs, the bow sinus fracture when they used a pry-bar… those heal (mostly.. the CAT scan of my face is interesting). But they turned me into a conscienceless animal, feeling zero remorse at not just hurting, but maiming others who were threats.

    If my parents hadn’t gotten me out of that school when they realised what was happening, that damaged mind might not have healed.

    So there but for the Grace of God, and no access to firearms, go I.

  • Marjorie 0120

    Excellent post.

    I was called to visit the high school my girlfriend’s son attended, he was in trouble for of all things tauting a gay kid. OMG he was not happy to see me! I was stricter than his mother. No one could tell either of us were gay just by appearance and we went out of our way to protect John from bullying for having gay parents.

    Needless to say our private discussion when left alone in that room was intense. I let him know that if I ever got another call of this nature that his mother and I would out ourselves to his class mates. To avoid that he had to publically appologize to the boy he tauted in the next morning’s home room. He was asked how he would like it if someone treated his mother the way he had treated this kid. He was asked how his life might change if he was outed for having us as parents.

    He did what was asked and we never got another complaint about him picking on anyone for any reason. Parents have to take very seriously complaints that their child is bullying or being bullied and today’s parents are not doing a good job of that.

  • Aidan8

    @mike777: Um, what the f*ck are you talking about? You make no sense whatsoever. These are school kids (i.e., children or teenagers) and the bullying is real. Charge them as adults? If he’s near a gun, blow them away? WTF? 1) Bullying is real and has real effects. 2) Gun violence and murder is not the answer. 3) Children are not adults. Could you possibly confuse the issues any more? Smart thoughtful reasoned comments are great and yours is not an example of same.

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