Authorities say the biography on an Instagram account believed to belong to the teen gunman who shot dead two classmates at his California school said: ‘Saugus, have fun at school tomorrow’.
Nathaniel Berhow, 16, has been identified as the suspect in the deadly shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, about 40 miles from Los Angeles, on Thursday morning.
He is accused of taking a gun from his backpack and firing at five students, killing two of them, before shooting himself in the head with the final bullet on what was his 16th birthday.
Berhow survived and is currently in hospital in a grave condition.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said the message on his Instagram was posted on Thursday morning but it is unclear exactly when.
Authorities say the message was later removed but they don’t know who made the change.
The FBI said there was no reason to believe Berhow was acting on behalf of a group or ideology or that there were any conspirators in the deadly shooting.
Nathaniel Berhow, 16, has been identified as the suspect in the deadly shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, about 40 miles from Los Angeles, on Thursday morning
Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said the message on Berhow’s Instagram was posted on Thursday morning but it is unclear exactly when. Authorities say the message was later removed but they don’t know who made the change
Authorities said they responded to a torrent of 911 calls when the gunfire began at about 7.30am and they found all six students in a quad area within the school.
Berhow was initially mistaken for a victim when the school was locked down. Witness descriptions and surveillance footage identified the suspect within an hour of the shooting.
No other suspects are currently being investigated.
Surveillance video captured the attacker pulling a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol from his backpack and opening fire on his classmates.
A 14-year-old boy and a 16-year-old boy were killed.
Two girls, ages 14 and 15, were each in good condition after being treated for gunshot wounds. A 14-year-old boy was treated and released from another hospital.
Authorities say they are obtaining a warrant to search Berhow’s home and his mother and girlfriend were cooperating with detectives.
Berhow’s mother, Mami Matasuura, said she was praying her son survived.
‘I don’t even know what to do right now, I am just praying for my son’s life,’ she said.
Berhow is pictured above as a child with his parents Mark and Mami and his sister. Berhow’s father was believed to have been an avid hunter, according to social media and his obituary. He died in December 2017 of a heart attack, according to his obituary
Medical personnel load an injured person into an ambulance outside Saugus High School in Santa Clarita
At least one person was said to have been shot in the abdomen
As authorities continue to investigate and try to determine a motive, details about the suspect and his family have started to emerge – including how there were signs of trouble at home.
Berhow’s father, Mark Berhow, died of a heart attack in December 2017, according to his online obituary.
The elder Berhow, who worked as an engineer for a health care company, was an avid hunter and is believed to have owned multiple weapons.
His obituary described his love of ‘big game hunting and fishing of all kinds’.
According to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department records published in a local newspaper, Berhow’s father was arrested in June 2015 on suspicion of attempted battery on his wife Mami Matasuura.
The district attorney’s office declined to file charges at the time because of insufficient evidence.
Online records also showed that Berhow’s mother and brought divorce proceedings against her husband in August 2016 and was filing for custody of the children.
Authorities were questioning the teen’s mother on Thursday as they searched for an explanation for the shooting.
SWAT officers were seen entering the suspect’s house in Santa Clarita, California, near Saugus High School where a mass shooting took place this morning, leaving two students dead
This photo from video provided by KTLA-TV shows law enforcement personnel outside a home on Sycamore Creek Drive during the manhunt for the suspected school shooter
A childhood friend of Berhow’s speculated in a KTLA interview that the death of the teen’s father two years ago could have triggered the rampage.
The friend claimed that Berhow’s father drank heavily and also made his own bullets.
Asked if there were weapons in Berhow’s home, the friend said: ‘His dad used to make bullets, so I’d assume he had bullets and stuff like that.’
Neighbors claimed Berhow’s father had a passion for guns but it is not clear if the teenager had access to weapons.
Jared Axen, who lives next door to the family, said Berhow used to go hunting with his father and that firearms ‘weren’t a mystery to him’.
‘He grew up with his father who was a hunter, and this was a normal activity for him,’ Axen said.
‘He grew up around firearms, it wasn’t a mystery, he knew how to use it and understood how it worked, he was responsible. He came off as a very responsible person.’
It comes as people who knew the suspect described him as a quiet, smart kid who they’d never expect would violently snap.
One fellow junior at Saugus High School said he was a Boy Scout who she relied on to study for advanced placement European history.
A next-door neighbor who knew the boy as they grew up said he kept to himself but was never threatening.
‘A quiet, to-himself kid,’ said Ryan McCracken, a next-door neighbor who though several years older would play with the boy growing up, including in a backyard tree house.
‘You wouldn’t expect anything like that from him.’
Students wait to be reunited with their parents at a park following the shooting at their high school on Thursday morning
Many students were in tears or on their phone with their loved ones during the Saugus High School evacuation Thursday morning
Students are comforted as they wait to be reunited with their parents following a deadly shooting at Saugus High School
Ella Cabigting is embraced by her father Emerson as they reunite after the shooting
Brooke Risley, a junior at Saugus High, said she had known the boy since elementary school and saw him Wednesday in engineering class. They were paired on engineering projects during the last school year and he came to her house to work on them.
On Thursday, she couldn’t recall anything indicating he might be violent. The closest she could get was a keychain he had with a hollow bullet.
‘We’re all wondering,’ said Risley, ‘what was the motive?’
Risley described the boy as somewhat introverted, though open with his close friends, and ‘naturally smart’.
She said he wasn’t bullied, had a girlfriend and had been an active member of a local Boy Scout troop.
Results posted online from school track meets last spring show he was an unexceptional middle- and long-distance runner. His GPA landed him on the honor roll during fall of eight grade, according to online school records, though he did not appear on the published honor roll last year.
Joe Fitzpatrick, a senior who helped the teacher in the boy´s physics class, called him a ‘good, quiet kid’ who didn’t miss assignments and did well on tests.
‘He just seemed like one of those regular kids,’ Fitzpatrick said.
Students have since detailed how the sound of gunfire sent some running while others and staff followed recently practiced security procedures as the shooting unfolded.
Some students and teachers armed themselves with scissors and even a fire extinguisher to use as a weapon if needed.
The students inside a barricaded choir classroom were huddled in the dark minutes after shots rang out when one them said: ‘I think I got shot.’
Katie Holt, a fine arts teacher, had pushed the piano in the music room against the classroom door, two students in the room told Reuters afterward, and grabbed a fire extinguisher, presumably to use as a weapon.
‘She turned off the lights… She locked all the doors. She pushed the piano to the door, totally barricading,’ said Eddie Mendoza, 17 in a phone interview, his voice still breaking from emotion and grief.
Students outside fled in panic, while those inside ran to safety in classrooms, as they had been repeatedly drilled to do.
Paramedics are seen administering aid to one of the shooting victims on school campus
Gunfire erupted inside Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California, Thursday morning
People are lead out of Saugus High School after reports of a shooting on Thursday
One of them was one of the gunman’s victims, Mendoza said.
‘I think I’m bleeding. I think I got shot,’ he recalled her saying. ‘It was just so hard hearing her say ‘I want my mom,’ it was heartbreaking,’ Mendoza said.
Another student who identified herself only as Pamela said Holt retrieved a first aid kit that was in the classroom and began treating the girl’s wounds on her shoulder and torso.
‘Our teacher was very calm and collected,’ Pamela said, adding that the students all remained calm. Even the wounded girl, who remained conscious and alert, kept talking and ‘making jokes to cope with it.’
Mendoza said of the teacher was ‘literally a hero.’
‘We did our best, we called 911 four times, we told them where we were.’
Pamela said roughly 35 students were holed up in Holt’s small office adjacent to the music room for about 29 minutes before they heard police pounding on the barricaded choir room door.
About seven officers then ushered the students out of the inner office into the choir room, with the students ordered to keep their hands raised to their heads.
‘We all put our hands up,’ Mendoza said, ‘everyone crying and shaking.’
With the school on lockdown, they were told to sit on the choir risers, where they were kept for about two hours before being escorted out of the school, Pamela said.
Students were taken by school bus to a reunification point at Santa Clarita’s Central Park to meet their parents.
Pamela said the ordeal left her feeling ‘numb,’ as she sought to console other classmates shaken by the events. ‘I just feel distant from it,’ she said.
Her father, standing beside her, said, ‘I’m sure it will hit you later.’
Kyra Stapp, 17, was watching a documentary in class when she heard two gunshots. Panicked students ran in and reported the shooting.
Students and others wait outside a reunification center in Santa Clarita, California
A police officer stands guard as students wait to reunite with their parents
Authorities said they responded to a torrent of 911 calls when the gunfire began at about 7.30am and they found all six students in a quad area within the school
Stapp´s class and others were herded into a teacher break room where they locked the door and turned off the lights.
Kyra texted her mother and tried not make any noise. They exchanged messages as sirens screamed and helicopters and deputies carrying rifles and shotguns swarmed the campus. Then Kyra fell silent while officers escorted students out.
‘She’s been texting me and all of a sudden she’s not,’ Tracy Stapp said. ‘That was like the worst 10 minutes of my life, I swear.’
Shauna Orandi, 16, said she was in her Spanish class doing homework when she heard four gunshots that she initially mistook as instruments from a band class. She said a student burst into the room saying he´d seen the gunman, and her classmates were stunned into silence.
‘My worst nightmare actually came true,’ she said later as she left a nearby park with her father. ‘This is it. I´m gonna die.’
Freshman Rosie Rodriguez said she was walking up the library stairs when she heard noises that ‘sounded like balloons’ popping. She realized they were gunshots when she saw other students running.
Still carrying a backpack laden with books, she ran across the street to a home, where a person she didn´t know gave shelter to her and about 10 other students.
‘I just heard a lot of kids crying. We were scared,’ Rodriguez said.
A huge crowd of anxious parents gathered in the park, waiting to be reunited with their children.
Undersheriff Tim Murakami tweeted an apology to the parents, saying investigators needed to interview the students before they could be released.