Detectives are continuing to investigate how teen gunman Nathaniel Berhow obtained a weapon which killed two people and wounded three others at a California high school Thursday.
Berhow, 16, also died on Friday at a hospital with his mother present, having turned the gun on himself in a suicide attempt at Saugus High School.
He killed 14-year-old Dominic Blackwell and 16-year-old Gracie Muehlberger, and injured Mia Page Tretta, another girl called Addison and a teenage boy who has not been named.
Friends and neighbors described Nathaniel Tennosuke Berhow as bright, funny, quiet and above all normal before he pulled a gun from his backpack and in 16 seconds shot five students at random before saving the last bullet for himself.
Detectives are continuing to investigate how teen gunman Nathaniel Berhow, (pictured), obtained a weapon which killed two people and wounded three others at Saugus High School
Gracie Muehlberger and Dominic Blackwell were the two students who were killed
Berhow had shown no signs of violence and didn’t appear to be linked to any ideology or terrorist group, authorities said.
After more than 40 interviews and a search of his home, authorities still were in the dark, Capt. Kent Wegener of the Sheriff’s Department’s homicide unit said at a press conference.
‘We did not find any manifesto, any diary that spelled it out, any suicide note or any writings,’ he said.
But if the teen’s motivation was murky, his actions were planned and deliberate, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said.
Berhow’s mother dropped him off at Saugus High School in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Clarita Thursday morning, which was his birthday.
He walked alone to the center of a school open-air quad. Security camera video showed him dropping his backpack and pulling out a .45-caliber handgun. He began firing, cleared the jammed weapon and kept shooting.
Berhow counted his rounds, Villanueva said, saving the last bullet for himself.
The entire shooting was caught on surveillance cameras inside the school. Footage of the incident has not been released.
Bryan and Cindy Muehlberger said they shared the news of their daughter’s death with “unexplainable brokenness.”
They described her as their “Cinderella, the daughter we always dreamed to have,” and said her two brothers were heartbroken.
‘She will never get to drive a car, fall in love, build a career, get married, have children and do all the other things everyone takes for granted in this short thing called life,’ they said in a statement.
A Saugus High School student is embraced as she visits a makeshift memorial in front of the school for victims of the shooting
A girl, named only as Addison (left) survived the shooting and remains in the hospital. Mia Page Tretta was also injured but is expected to make a full recovery
‘We miss her smile, laughter, sweet kisses, and her amazing sense of humor,’ the parents said.
GoFundMe pages that were apparently created by relatives of the two students killed had each raised tens of thousands of dollars by Saturday.
The one created for Gracie Muehlberger raised so far almost $80,000, as a page for Dominic Blackwell raised almost $70,000 by Saturday.
The organizer wrote on his page: ‘This world lost a bright, shining light… personified by a goofy laugh, cheesy smile, and a huge, caring heart He was taken from his family and friends in the most senseless of ways.
‘His three brothers will miss their big brother greatly, and his parents’ dreams for him will never be realized.
‘Dominic’s family needs this time to pull together and mourn this unexpected loss.’
Dominic Blackwell was a member of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.
‘I’ve known him since I was five,’ student Joshua Mourthi told KABC-TV. “So, he used to be my neighbor.
If the teen’s motivation was murky, his actions were planned and deliberate, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said
Students are escorted outside of Saugus High School after the shooting happened Thursday
Students line up after a shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California
‘He could make anyone smile. You could be having the worst day and he’d walk up and say, ‘Hey, how’s your day going?’ and you’d immediately start smiling.’
Two girls, ages 14 and 15, were shot in the torso and should be released from the hospital over the weekend, doctors said Friday. A 14-year-old boy was treated and released.
Berhow was a Boy Scout and had previously run track for his school.
On Thursday evening a vigil was held at the town’s Central Park as students tied blue and silver balloons to a makeshift memorial.
The school’s football game Friday night also proceeded amid uncertainty as to whether it would take place after the tragedy.
Chants of Saugus Strong! were heard at the football ground as students held signs saying ‘We Hart Saugus.’
The students held a moment of silence and released balloons into the sky, according to local news outlet KHTS.
Berhow was a Boy Scout and had previously run track for his school.Friends said Berhow could be introverted but he had a girlfriend and a good social network focused on his cross-country teammates.
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
Berhow’s father was an avid hunter who died two years ago. Police said they found several firearms at Berhow’s home and some were unregistered.
The semi-automatic handgun used by the boy also was unregistered. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was working with police to determine where Berhow got the handgun.
The common image of a mass shooter is ‘a loner, someone who is socially awkward, doesn’t get along, some violent tendencies, dark brooding and online strange postings — stuff like that,’ Villanueva said.
With this boy, investigators have found ‘nothing out of the ordinary. He’s a cookie-cutter kid that you could find anywhere.’
The stereotype of the loser sociopath is often inaccurate, according to the psychologist who co-wrote federal guidelines for assessing school shooting threats.
Marissa Randazzo, who has interviewed five shooters, said most of those she studied were academically successful and weren’t social outcasts.
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, said Randazzo, a former chief research psychologist at the U.S. Secret Service who is now CEO of a threat-assessments firm.
‘These are acts of suicide as much as homicide,’ she said. A vigil which has been called ‘Saugus Strong’ is due to take place at 7 pm PT Sunday at Central Park.
Sebastian Cazares, student body president at the local college, who is among those organizing the event, said in a Facebook post: ‘I remember just a year ago when Parkland happened, me and hundreds of students stood up right in the quad to demand change and to make sure this tragedy never would happen again.
‘We wrote letters to our representatives, and we passionately engaged in activism to stop these tragedies,’ Cazares wrote in a Facebook post.