Shocked students and parents after the attack in Santa Clarita
Two students killed and three injured in attack by fellow student
Two teenagers have been killed and three others injured by a gunman who opened fire at a high school in California, according to reports.
The suspect, a 16-year-old boy, launched the attack this morning as students were arriving at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, 30 miles north of Los Angeles.
The gunman, believed to be a student there, then turned the weapon on himself but survived.
Police received calls shortly after 7:30am local time (3.30pm GMT) about a shooting at the school, where they found a number of victims in the courtyard.
The gunman had reportedly opened fire on his fellow students with a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol that was stashed in his backpack, The Guardian reports.
The attack lasted for around 16 seconds, before the alleged attacker then turned the gun on himself. He was rushed to hospital, along with five other injured students.
Officials say that a girl aged 16 and a 14-year-old boy have since died from their injuries.
The New York Times reports that the other injured victims, a 14-year-old boy and two girls aged 14 and 15, are all in stable conditions. Law enforcement officials say the suspect is in a critical condition.
The three first responders to the shooting were off-duty police officers who are parents of students at the school, according to the newspaper.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the victims appear to have been shot at random.
Describing video footage of the incident obtained from a witness’s mobile phone, Captain Kent Wegener said: “He just fires from where he is. He doesn’t chase anybody. He doesn’t move.”
Around 2,300 students attend Saugus High School, which consists of more than a dozen buildings.
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Who is the shooter?
Authorities say they are looking into biographical information on a social media account belonging to the suspect that was taken down after the mass shooting, CNN reports. The broadcaster adds that he has been described by police as an Asian male.
Police say that today is understood to be his 16th birthday and that he is believed to have acted alone.
A search was being conducted at the gunman’s home, and his girlfriend and mother have been questioned.
What has the reaction been?
Vice-president Mike Pence said: “This president and this administration will remain resolved to bring the scourge of mass shootings to an end.”
Pence added that the rapid response of police “undoubtedly saved lives”.
An unamed student at the school told the Los Angeles Times: “We are one of those schools now… Just like Parkland.”
An editorial in the newspaper says that “there is no shock, really, outside the small circle of people directly affected by the gunfire. Because we have seen this too many times before – and we are destined to repeat it for the foreseeable future”.
The BBC reports that “more than 230,000 young people in the US have experienced gun violence at school since the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado in 1999”. The rate of murder or manslaughter by firearm in the US is the highest in the developed world.
The Saugus High School attack is at least the 85th incident of gunfire on school grounds this year, according to Everytown, an advocacy group pushing for stricter gun laws.