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Teenage Gunman Kills 2, Injures 3 At California School

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

A student at Saugus High School in southern California pulled out a handgun and shot five teens before pointing the weapon at himself on Thursday morning. Two students were killed, three others were wounded. And the alleged shooter, a 16-year-old boy, is also in critical condition. This was the 38th shooting on an elementary or secondary school campus in the United States this year. From member station KPCC, Carla Javier reports.

CARLA JAVIER, BYLINE: Here's what the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department says happened. The local sheriff's station got the first of several 911 calls at 7:38 in the morning. There was a shooting at Saugus High School. Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters that off-duty cops from his department and local police departments had family at the school and were already on campus or nearby. At least one was dropping off someone. They were the first to respond.

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ALEX VILLANUEVA: They tended to the care of all of the victims and got the first aid rolling, so their actions definitely saved lives.

JAVIER: Villanueva said Saugus High itself and other schools in the district are closed while authorities investigate.

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VILLANUEVA: I hate to have Saugus be added to the names of Columbine, Parkland, Sandy Hook, but it's a reality that affects us all throughout the nation, something we're going to have to deal with. And we got to figure out, what are we doing wrong, and how can we stop this from happening in the future?

JAVIER: Detectives had interviewed students who were potential witnesses before they reunited with parents gathered at a local park. One of those parents was Tom Griswold, who has two sons at the school, a senior and a sophomore. He says one of his kids ran as soon as he heard the gunshots, and the other was in his classroom when the school went on lockdown.

TOM GRISWOLD: Why wouldn't it be here? I mean, they go through drills and they do all this other stuff. I mean, they were certainly planning that it could happen. And it was a good thing they did, I guess, because my son knew immediately just run. I guess and it's - I can't say it's completely unexpected based on just the way things are.

JAVIER: Saugus junior Yvette Mojica says she never expected something like this would happen at her school.

YVETTE MOJICA: And the neighborhood that's supposed to be so safe and so, like, welcoming, it's just - it's crazy.

JAVIER: She and the other students in her forensics class barricaded their classroom door with a computer cart.

YVETTE: I could see everyone texting their parents, telling them that they were OK. That's what I did, I texted my parents. And I told them that, like, I love you, and I'm OK.

JAVIER: President Trump tweeted that he's monitoring the situation and sends his condolences. And in the community, a number of vigils and services have been planned for this weekend.

For NPR News, I'm Carla Javier in Pasadena.

(SOUNDBITE OF EVENINGS' "SOFTLY WE GO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.