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2 Dead, Several Hurt In Shooting At Calif. High School; Suspect 'In Grave Condition'

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Students are escorted out of Saugus High School, where authorities say a student killed two teenagers and wounded three others in a shooting in Santa Clarita, Calif., Thursday.
Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP

Students are escorted out of Saugus High School, where authorities say a student killed two teenagers and wounded three others in a shooting in Santa Clarita, Calif., Thursday.

Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET

Two students have died after a gunman opened fire Thursday morning at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, Calif., according to law enforcement officials. Three other students also were shot.

Authorities have not named the suspect but say he is a 16-year-old student at the school. He carried out the attack on his birthday.

At a midday news conference, Capt. Kent Wegener of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Homicide Bureau said detectives reviewed surveillance video footage from the high school that showed the suspect taking a handgun from his backpack and shooting five other people before shooting himself in the head.

The sheriff's department says the victims who died are a 16-year-old female and a 14-year-old male, both of whom died at the hospital Thursday morning.

The others who were hospitalized include two more female students, ages 14 and 15, along with a second 14-year-old male student.

Wegener said the suspect, said to have been dressed in black, used a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol that had no more bullets in it when it was recovered.

After receiving a report of shots fired at Saugus High, deputies found six students suffering from gunshot wounds in the school's quad. The wounded teenagers were triaged and transported to the hospital.

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"The suspect was later identified as one of the victims who was found in the quad," Wegener said. He is reportedly in grave condition.

The teenager "is in custody and being treated at a local hospital," Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva tweeted. Investigators are still working to determine what could have led to the violence.

The FBI is also involved in the case; Wegener said the bureau will help recover any cellphone video that may have been captured during the attack.

He added that the suspect's mother and girlfriend are being interviewed at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station. Authorities say they believe the suspect acted alone.

Four of the victims were transported to Henry Mayo Hospital, which says that three of them — two males and one female — arrived in critical condition. The female patient later died. Another male student was in good condition, the hospital said.

The shooting took place before the start of classes, shortly after 7 a.m. local time. "Deputies responded to reports of shots fired," the sheriff's station said via Twitter. "This is an active shooter situation."

After deputies reached the school, they cleared out the campus and began a systematic search for the suspect on school grounds and nearby.

The school became the scene of a large evacuation, as lines of students were led through its parking lot to a secured area. Officials set up a reunification point at Central Park, across a major roadway south of the school.

Nearby residents were asked to "shelter in place and report any suspicious activity," says Tim Murakami, undersheriff of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

In an update, the sheriff's station said, "If you live in neighborhoods anywhere near Saugus High, PLEASE LOCK DOORS and stay inside. If you see suspect, male dark clothing, in backyards, etc. CALL 911."

The shooting prompted a lockdown order for nearby elementary schools. A broader lockdown was ordered for the entire William S. Hart Union School District, but that was later rescinded.

"I hate to have Saugus be added to the names of Columbine, Parkland, Sandy Hook," Villanueva said, listing other horrible school shootings at the midday news conference.

"But it's a reality that affects us all throughout the nation, something we're going to have to deal with." He added, "We've got to figure out, what are we doing wrong and how can we stop this from happening in the future."

This is a developing story. Some facts reported by the media may later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from police officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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