'Unsociable' student gunman pulls semi-pistol out of backpack on his 16th birthday and unloads on five classmates in CA high school, killing two, before attempting suicide - as it's revealed death of his alcoholic dad may have triggered rampage

  • Nathaniel Berhow, 16,  is suspected of gunning down classmates at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California, on Thursday morning
  • A 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy died. Two girls, ages 14 and 15, and a 14-year-old boy were hospitalized 
  • Surveillance captured the attacker pulling pistol from his backpack, firing at his five classmates and then shooting himself with the final bullet 
  • Berhow, who was initially mistaken for a victim, is in hospital in a grave condition
  • The school was locked down and witness descriptions and surveillance footage identified the suspect within an hour of the shooting 
  • Officers went to his home and his mother and girlfriend are assisting detectives with their investigation 
  • Berhow's father Mark Berhow died of a heart attack in December 2017  
  • A childhood friend of Berhow's described him as being quiet and introverted
  • He said the suspect's father had died in the last few years and speculated that it could have been a trigger 
  • The friend claimed that Berhow's late father drank heavily and also made bullets 

The 16-year-old student who pulled a gun out of his backpack and opened fire at his California high school, killing two classmates and injuring three others, before attempting suicide has been identified. 

Nathaniel Berhow was taken into custody and rushed to hospital where he is in a grave condition after the deadly shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, about 40 miles from Los Angeles, on Thursday morning. 

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. 

Surveillance video captured the attacker pulling a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol from his backpack, firing at his five classmates and then shooting himself in the head with the final bullet. 

A 14-year-old boy and a 16-year-old boy have died.

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. 

The gunman, who was initially mistaken for a victim, is also in hospital in a grave condition. 

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. 

Authorities are still investigating but a former friend said the 2017 death of Berhow's father Mark Berhow could have triggered the shooting rampage.

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

Nathaniel Berhow was taken into custody and rushed to hospital where he is in a grave condition after the deadly shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, about 40 miles from Los Angeles, on Thursday morning 

One of the five students shot in the early Thursday morning attack at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California, is seen before wheeled on a gurney

One of the five students shot in the early Thursday morning attack at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California, is seen before wheeled on a gurney 

Medical personnel load an injured person into an ambulance outside Saugus High School in Santa Clarita

Medical personnel load an injured person into an ambulance outside Saugus High School in Santa Clarita

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva did not identify the gunman but said he was a student at the school and that he was celebrating his 16th birthday the day of the attack. 

The school was locked down and witness descriptions and surveillance footage identified the suspect within an hour of the shooting. No other suspects are currently being investigated.

Officers went to his home and his mother and girlfriend were at a local police station speaking with detectives.

Authorities said a search warrant was being obtained for the suspect's home to collect possible evidence.  

'At this point in time, we have no indication of motivation or ideology,' said Paul Delacourt, the agent in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles field office.  

A childhood friend of Berhow's - who only identified himself by his first name to KTLA, described him as being quiet and introverted.

Ryan said he knew the suspect in middle school but that he didn't really socialize.  

'Over the years we stopped talking, there was a disconnect (between us),' he said, adding he last spoke to the suspect about six years ago.

'He was doing his own thing. It's a shock to all of us.'

Ryan said Berhow's father had died and speculated that his death might have triggered the violence. The friend claimed that Berhow's father drank heavily and also made bullets. 

Asked if there were weapons in the home, Ryan said: 'His dad used to make bullets, so I'd assume he had bullets and stuff like that.'  

He added that Berhow's father was a 'really nice man who was willing to help people'. 

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 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

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

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

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 

LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva confirmed 15-year-old suspect's capture in a tweet

LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva confirmed 15-year-old suspect's capture in a tweet

Neighbors claimed Berhow's father had a passion for guns but it is not clear if the teenager had access to weapons. 

Berhow's father was believed to have been an avid hunter, according to social media and his 2017 obituary. 

He died in December 2017 of a heart attack, according to his obituary.  

The Berhow family's next-door neighbor, Jared Axen, told KTLA that he had known the suspect since he was a baby and that his father used to go hunting, so firearms 'weren't a mystery to him.'

He also said he believed that the suspect was the one who found his father's body at home when he died.

'I can't think of any red flags in our conversation, when he would think of handling his hurt in this manner. He grew up with his father who was a hunter, and this was a normal activity for him.

'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.'

Axen said he had shared interests with Berhow, including air pistols and being in the Boy Scouts at different times.

A Saugus junior named Kayden said the 16-year-old shooting suspect was an athlete, running cross-country, and 'didn't talk much'.

He said he was shocked that his classmate has been identified as the suspect, saying he never would have expected him to do that. 

Tenth-grader Aidan Soto told the LA Times he had known the suspect through the school's track team and also via Boy Scouts.

'I'm bewildered and looking for answers — the question as to why all this would happen,' Soto said. 'So many questions no one has the answers to.'

He said Berhow was someone the younger Boy Scouts 'really looked up to'.

A classmate, Brooke Hougo, said she ran cross country with him and they were in the same AP psychology class.

'I would have never expected anything like this,' she said. 'He was just a quiet kid.' 

People hug each other during a vigil for the Saugus High School shooting victims on Thursday night

People hug each other during a vigil for the Saugus High School shooting victims on Thursday night

Jessica Dumont, a former student at Saugus High School, places balloons on a makeshift memorial at Central Park in honor of the victims of a shooting at the high school

Jessica Dumont, a former student at Saugus High School, places balloons on a makeshift memorial at Central Park in honor of the victims of a shooting at the high school

Flowers are placed in front of Saugus High School in the aftermath of a shooting on Thursday

Flowers are placed in front of Saugus High School in the aftermath of a shooting on Thursday

Students wait to be reunited with their parents at a park following the shooting at their high school on Thursday morning

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

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 

Students are embraced as they reunite at a park following a shooting at Saugus High School that injured several people
Students are embraced as they reunite at a park following a shooting at Saugus High School that injured several people

Students are embraced as they reunite at a park following a shooting at Saugus High School that injured several people

Ella Cabigting is embraced by her father Emerson as they reunite after the shooting

Ella Cabigting is embraced by her father Emerson as they reunite after the shooting

The high school was evacuated Thursday morning after the mass shooting that killed five
Both students and parents were in tears as they were reunited in a nearby park

The high school was evacuated Thursday morning after the mass shooting that killed five

Anxious parents had to wait hours to reunite with their children because sheriff's deputies had to interview them about the shooting

Anxious parents had to wait hours to reunite with their children because sheriff's deputies had to interview them about the shooting 

Women embrace in Central Park after a shooting
D.J. Hamburger, center in blue, a teacher at Saugus High School, comforts a student

Emotional scene played out outside the Saugus High School campus Thursday morning  

Students at Saugus High School wept while being escorted out of the school Thursday

Students at Saugus High School wept while being escorted out of the school Thursday 

Students and parents are pictured at a reunification center following the fatal school shooting Thursday morning in Santa Clarita

Students and parents are pictured at a reunification center following the fatal school shooting Thursday morning in Santa Clarita 

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.

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.'  

Paramedics are seen administering aid to one of the shooting victims on school campus

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

People are lead out of Saugus High School after reports of a shooting on Thursday

At least one person was said to have been shot in the abdomen

At least one person was said to have been shot in the abdomen 

At least five people were said to have been wounded in the school shooting Thursday

At least five people were said to have been wounded in the school shooting Thursday 

Ambulances are parked outside of Saugus High School after reports of a shooting

Ambulances are parked outside of Saugus High School after reports of a shooting

Childhood friend of California school shooting suspect says he was quiet and recently lost his father

Ryan, a childhood friend of the 16-year-old school shooting suspect, said he was quiet growing up and was shaken by his father's death a year ago

Ryan, a childhood friend of the 16-year-old school shooting suspect, said he was quiet growing up and was shaken by his father's death a year ago 

A childhood friend of the 16-year-old suspect said he believed the death of the teen's father could have triggered the incident.

The friend, named Ryan, knew the suspect in middle school and said he was quiet and didn't really socialize. 

He claimed that the shooter's father drank a lot and also made bullets, but his father was a 'really nice man who was willing to help people'.

Speaking near his home, Ryan told KTLA that he had last spoken to his friend about six years ago.

'Over the years we stopped talking, there was a disconnect [between us]. He was doing his own thing. It's a shock to all of us. His father passed a year ago or something like that,' he said. 

Asked if there were weapons in the home, he replied: 'His dad used to make bullets so I'd assume he had bullets and stuff like that. 

He claimed the teen's father had an issue with alcohol.

'He had a spike, and started doing a bunch, uncontrollably,' Ryan said.

'It's crazy, it shows you, you don't know what people are going through, I guess. I wish I could've known what he was going through, or talk to him.'

Jared Axen knew the suspect since he was a baby and that his father and said that he was a kind person who was respectful to others

Jared Axen knew the suspect since he was a baby and that his father and said that he was a kind person who was respectful to others

Berhow’s neighbor claimed the alleged shooter grew up around firearms so ‘they weren’t a mystery to him.’  

Jared Axen knew the suspect since he was a baby and that his father and said that he was a kind person who was respectful to others.

Ecksen, a registered nurse, also claimed he believed that the suspect found his father’s body at home when he passed away.

He told KTLA: ‘I can’t think of any red flags in our conversation, when he would think of handling his hurt in this manner. He grew up with his father who was a hunter, and this was a normal activity for him. 

‘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.’

‘On the outside they were very loving, she [mother] worked hard to make sure the children had a future.

‘At the same time, sometimes you don’t realize how much people love you until you go through these changes.

He added he knew the suspect since he was born and that Thursday's events were surprising to everyone in the community.

‘He is a quiet person, a kind person, he was respectful how he talked to others.

‘I wish I could just hug him, there is nothing I would really be able to say… I wish I could just give him a hug.’

Jared claimed he had shared interests with the suspect including air pistols and they were also in the boy scouts at different times.

He claimed he had asked his sister how she was and she said they were doing fine.

Kyra Stapp, 17, was watching a documentary in class when she heard two gunshots. Panicked students ran in and reported the shooting.

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. 

People wait for students and updates outside of Saugus High School, where one student was killed

People wait for students and updates outside of Saugus High School, where one student was killed 

Students and others wait outside a reunification center in Santa Clarita, California

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

A police officer stands guard as students wait to reunite with their parents

Sheriff's deputies stand outside Saugus High School after the fatal shooting in Santa Clarita

Sheriff's deputies stand outside Saugus High School after the fatal shooting in Santa Clarita

A girl in one flip-flop is being led away from the high school by a police officer

A girl in one flip-flop is being led away from the high school by a police officer

Students evacuate their campus after a gunman opened fire at Saugus High School on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, in Santa Clarita, Calif. (AP Photo/Christian Monterrosa)
Students evacuate their campus after a gunman opened fire at Saugus High School on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, in Santa Clarita, Calif. (AP Photo/Christian Monterrosa)

Students are seen on school buses during the Saugus High School evacuation 

This map shows the location of the high school on Centurion Way in Santa Clarita, about 40 miles from downtown Los Angeles 

'I should not have to go to school and fear for my life': Terrified student describes classmates 'grabbing scissors' in case they had to 'fight back' after gunman opened fire at a California high school

By: Valerie Edwards For DailyMail.com

Students and teachers who survived a shooting at a California high school Thursday morning are recalling the moment they heard the gunman open fire as terrified parents and grandparents wait to be reunited with their loved ones. 

Brooklyn Moreno, a student at Saugus High School, said after hearing gunshots she 'ran right out of school as fast as I could'.

Moreno told ABC News that 'there was girls falling in front of me' as they were all running to find safety.

Students and teachers (pictured) who survived a shooting at a California high school Thursday morning are recalling the moment they heard the gunman open fire as terrified parents and grandparents wait to be reunited with their loved ones

Students and teachers (pictured) who survived a shooting at a California high school Thursday morning are recalling the moment they heard the gunman open fire as terrified parents and grandparents wait to be reunited with their loved ones

Parents wait to reunite with their children after the shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California

Parents wait to reunite with their children after the shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California 

'I was trying to help them up and then I just kept running because I didn't want to get hurt either.'

Anxious parents are awaiting reunification with their children near the high school where authorities say a 16-year-old student opened fire, killing a 16-year-old girl and wounding several others. 

Grandparents who were searching for their granddaughter, Isabella, spoke to reporters at the scene. 

Isabella's grandmother, Rosa Arreola, told NBC that they had spoken with their granddaughter who had been taken to safety at a nearby park. 

The teen's grandfather also said that Isabella's friend was killed during the shooting. 

Student Amber Miller told NBC: 'I should not have to go to school and fear for my life... I'm not a target. And this is unfortunately Trump's America.'

'I'm going to stand up for gun control,' she vowed.

Anxious parents were waiting reunification with their children near the high school where authorities say a 16-year-old student opened fire, killing a 16-year-old girl and wounding several others

Anxious parents were waiting reunification with their children near the high school where authorities say a 16-year-old student opened fire, killing a 16-year-old girl and wounding several others

Students are seen crying at a park while waiting for their parents

Students are seen crying at a park while waiting for their parents

Students from Saugus High School in the city of Santa Clarita were taken to a park following the shooting around 7.30am Thursday.

Los Angeles County Undersheriff Tim Murakami tweeted an apology to the parents, saying investigators need to interview the students before they can be released.

A hospital reported that the 16-year-old female student succumbed to her injuries shortly after she was brought in. Two males are in critical condition and another male is in good condition. 

During an afternoon press conference, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says the unidentified gunman, whose birthday is Thursday, is in grave condition at a hospital. 

A video of the shooting shows the teenager shooting himself in the head. 

White House spokesman Judd Deere says President Donald Trump is monitoring the reports of the school shooting.

Deere says in a statement that those in the area are encouraged 'to follow the advice of local law enforcement and first responders.' 

Democrat congressman Tim Ryan, who represents Ohio, reacted with shock at the latest school shooting incident. 

In a tweet he claimed: 'My heart breaks for Saugus High School and the Santa Clarita community. How many more, @senatemajldr Mitch McConnell? Our children cannot keep living like this. The Senate needs to #DoSomething, we need to take action on gun violence.

Presidential candidate and California Senator Kamala Harris also tweeted: 'Heartbroken and praying for Santa Clarita. I'm incredibly grateful to the first responders who are on the scene of this active situation.

'If you are near the area, please listen to law enforcement. Our children and communities are being terrorized. We can't accept this.'

Senator Dianne Feinstein urged the public to comply with emergency notices and said she was monitoring the ongoing situation. 

California House Representative Katie Porter said her heart broke for families and students affected by the shooting and called for measures to control gun violence.

'My heart breaks for our neighbors in Santa Clarita and our children, who have to grow up in a world where they can't go to school without fear. This. Must. End. It is past time for our Senate and our President to say #EnoughIsEnough. They can start by passing H.R.8 into law,' she tweeted.  

Boy kills two classmates in California high school shooting

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