Student opens fire at California high school, wounding one

At least one student was shot when a classmate opened fire at a high school in California on Thursday.

The shooting occurred in the science building at Taft Union High School in Taft, Calif., at approximately 9 a.m. local time, a Kern County Sheriff’s official told Yahoo News.

The suspected shooter—a 16-year-old male student at the school—did not show up for the start of first period, police say. He entered the school with a 12-gauge shotgun and interrupted his first-period class, shooting one student police say he was targeting.

The victim, also 16, was airlifted to Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield, Calif., with a shotgun wound to the upper right chest. He’s in critical but stable condition.

The gunman then called a second student’s name in the 28-person class and fired again, but missed, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said. A teacher and a campus supervisor engaged the shooter in conversation inside the classroom, school officials said, and were able to persuade him to put down the shotgun. The shooter was then taken into police custody.

The teacher was treated at the scene for a pellet wound to the head. (It’s unclear whether the wound was from birdshot, Youngblood said.) Another student who was near the shotgun when it was fired was taken to a local hospital, where she was treated for hearing loss.

[Slideshow: Shots fired at high school in California]

During a press briefing outside the school on Thursday afternoon, reporters asked police whether the suspected shooter had been suspended from school last year for carrying what parents told them was a “hit list.” Police would not confirm those reports.

According to the school’s website, “two campus supervisors and a Kern County Sheriff monitor the campus before, during, and after school.” But officials said the armed officer who is normally on campus was “snowed in” and not on duty at the time of the shooting. About 1,000 students attend the high school.

ABC’s Kero-Bakersfield affiliate said it received calls from students who were hiding in closets inside the school, located about 120 miles north of Los Angeles.

The school was evacuated while sheriff and fire personnel conducted room-to-room searches. One student told the network that he was in another building participating in an “active shooter drill” when the shooting occurred.

The school was featured in the 1986 film “The Best of Times” starring Robin Williams and Kurt Russell. Friday’s classes have been canceled.

The shootings come less than a month after 26 people, including 20 children, were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history. The massacre led to calls for reforms to the country’s gun laws.

On Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden, appointed to lead a task force to reduce U.S. gun violence, was scheduled to meet with members of the National Rifle Association in Washington to discuss gun control.

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Eric Write head editor and chief at The Pluto Daily