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Ten Wounded, One Critically Injured in Santee School Shooting

Aired March 5, 2001 - 1:47 p.m. ET


LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: All of our attention is focused on Santee, at Santana High School where there's been a shooting, a little more than an hour ago.

And just a few minutes ago, we heard from an eyewitness to the event, someone who had a ringside seat, even took photographs of the event.

Let's listen to what he had to say to give you a better idea of what happened in Santee this morning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We saw the whole thing happen. We were in the -- we were in the small quad. I was in my room. I was in the room right across from where the boy's bathroom was.

We saw and heard -- when we heard the shot, I thought it was fake. My teacher said it was real. I went outside and I was taking pictures with my camera. And I saw one kid kneeling down in the small quad. The window of the lunch cart was shot out. We went -- we were inside. And we were watching the whole thing unfold.

The student who was shooting came back out, fired his weapon a couple more times, and went back in. I believe there was multiple victims in the rest room. We saw one get carried out. Another one that was -- the person who was laying down in the small quad, he was whisked away by campus security and put over into an alcove of the small quad. At the time, the students stayed in the rest room until the police came and they had guns drawn.

It was -- it was quite a scene.

SALVADOR RIVERA, KGTV CORRESPONDENT: Tell us what you saw through the camera. What are your pictures going to show when you develop them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately they took my film. If they were developed, you would see the student who got shot kneeling down in the small quad. Students running away while the shots were being fired.

And we had the videotape as well, which was confiscated by the police. That would show the student being apprehended and taken away, and also victims being taken away as well.

RIVERA: We've heard a couple of times already there was word that this was coming. Did you hear that yesterday at all, this report?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I have not heard anything. This was a complete shock. Nothing around campus would even hint to this, so.

RIVERA: Tell us about the student body at that point, the faculty, as soon as the shots rang out, what happened? Describe what was going on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Complete chaos. Everyone scrambled. It was -- it was amazing to see how everyone just bolted towards anything they could get to, to hide and cover.

I did not see where the shots were coming from at first. And then you looked over and see the kid smiling and shooting his weapon.

RIVERA: You said you thought they were maybe firecrackers?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought they were blanks -- blank rounds -- because it wasn't a very loud percussion sound, wasn't anything that was a big bang.

RIVERA: Handgun? How would you describe the weapon?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Handgun with a long barrel. It was...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Salvador, the young man said that the shooter was smiling as he was shooting?

RIVERA: The shooter was smiling; is that what you said?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, when he came back out of the bathroom, he was smiling, looking around and smiling with his weapon. He fired two more shots and went back in.

RIVERA: Does he have a history of being...?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know the student personally. I've seen him around campus before, I know he's a Santana student.

RIVERA: What's your name?

WATERS: Close-up witness to the shooting at Santana High School in Santee, California, a San Diego suburb. Again, 10 injured, 1 critical, and among the injured, a campus supervisor, according to the sheriff's department, the S.W.A.T. Team and bomb squad still at work securing Santana High School, making sure no one else was involved in the shooting, and just as a precautionary measure, the bomb squad is taking a look around.

You are seeing a spot in Santee, which is near the high school, where students were either evacuated or told to go to wait for their parents to come and pick them up. And we will rejoin the coverage by KGTV, Channel 10 in San Diego to get the latest on this story that's now about 90 minutes old.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't know, you know? There was no -- there was no information available because it had just happened, you know? And you don't know what's going on, and you really -- it's hard, I mean, her mom was calling from work, and her grandmother's down here in one of the local retirement home, she's calling worried to death. You just don't know, and I saw her come across the parking lot with her friends.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was that moment like?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's -- it's a large weight lifts off your shoulders at that moment. And again, all the parents, you know; my heart goes out to all of them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Jennifer, we hear your dad talking about that moment when he walked into the diner and heart sank because he didn't know what was going on. You, at the moment, might have had a better sense -- what was happening on your campus at that point?

JENNIFER: Like, everyone was running and screaming and we were -- I was laying in the classroom and I just ran out so -- I saw the girl just laying there, and no one could help her because they were still shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you saw a victim?

JENNIFER: Yeah, just laying on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was she moving? Was she OK?

JENNIFER: I didn't see that much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, where did you go after that?

JENNIFER: The sheriffs just took us out and walked over here, so...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. How about in terms of getting here and getting here safely? Were you locked down in a classroom or anything like that?

JENNIFER: For like 30 minutes -- like, at the most. So, it was pretty scary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me, sir? You are looking for your kids?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, and what was the information that you got?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got on the radio that up to 11 people were shot. And they weren't releasing any names or anything, so I got down here as soon as I could from work.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, let me give you the rundown from what we know: you need to check into Del Taco for a posted list of the kids that might have been involved. Roundtable -- if you are looking for your kids, you can go and check in at Roundtable and sign them out. Did you try that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very disorganized right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's crazy right now. You can't get -- there's too many people over there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't have a system set up yet. They're working on it, but it's a mess over there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't know who's there and who's not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just in case it might help, tell me your kids names in case...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anthony and Danielle Mattini (ph). They're my stepson and daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And they need to come down here to the parking lot and find you.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Thank you for sharing your time with us. I do appreciate it.

And let me go ahead and toss it to reporter Lauren Reynolds; I understand she's standing by with an update.

LAUREN REYNOLDS, KGTV CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm over here at Sharp Hospital. A total of 7 victims have been brought here to Sharp Hospital. Six of those victims are students, and one of the victims is a sheriff deputy who, apparently, was shot in the leg.

The good news is that none of the injuries appear to be life threatening. Three of the students that we actually saw being brought here were on gurneys; one was actually rolling in a wheelchair, and he looked alert, looking around, we don't know the extent of the injuries yet. They're assessing them, of course, they're triaging (ph) them and attending to the most seriously wounded.

But the good news, of course, is that none of the injuries is life threatening. They don't expect any more victims here at Sharp Hospital. They had a total of seven here, they think there might have been one more victim to Grossmont Hospital -- they can't confirm that. But it looks like seven total here, nobody is going to die, everybody is going to recover, and they are not expecting any more, so at least that's a little bit of good news. The victims we saw didn't look to be in terrible shape, which of course is very much a relief at this point.

You are right about that. Lauren, thank you. Let's go to Bob Lawrence who is live in Santee, just across the street from Santana High School -- Bob.

BOB LAWRENCE, KGTV CORRESPONDENT: I just wanted to update one thing, too. We talked with the sheriff's spokesman; there is one fatality. A student has now been confirmed dead. They have not -- they have not released his name nor the shooter's name, but I'm standing here next to Josh Stevens who says he knew the young man and said he was going to do this; is that true?

JOSH STEVENS, STUDENT: Yes. The whole weekend he was talking about it, and me and my friends were like, you're not serious are you? And he said, I was joking. And then he asked us if we wanted to do it with him, and we're all, you said you were joking. He said, I'm just messing around.

LAWRENCE: You didn't believe him when he said this?

STEVENS: No. He would never -- he's the kind of person that would never do anything like that.

LAWRENCE: Did you know if he had access to weapons? Obviously he got one.

STEVENS: His dad has a bunch of guns. Two .22s and a couple of shotguns, I'm pretty sure.

LAWRENCE: But obviously, from the lessons of Columbine, you tell somebody and you didn't believe him?

STEVENS: I didn't want to get him in trouble if he wasn't going to do it. I didn't think he was going to do it.

LAWRENCE: He obviously did. Josh, hold on a second.

Star, I want to talk to you. You are one of the supervisors on campus, and all of a sudden, during your morning patrol out on the quad, then what?

STAR: All I hear is students yelling, I hear my other fellow campus supervisor screaming on the walkie and I go in the hallway and all I hear is gunshots and see a kid laying on the ground and I tell the kids just to run onto the tennis courts and I was on the tennis courts and I'm still hearing pop, pop, pop -- and that was about it.

LAWRENCE: And then pandemonium -- I guess kids were running everywhere?

STAR: Yeah, everywhere. We didn't know what was going on, sounded like a cap gun, we didn't know what was going on.

LAWRENCE: We do know what's going on now. Thank you, Star. One of your fellow supervisors was hurt?

STAR: Yeah, he was.

LAWRENCE: We do know -- have an update -- a lot of them were transported to various hospitals here, one to Alvarado. That was the one we saw who was hit in the knees -- a young woman seemed to be OK. Four to Sharp Hospital. Three to Mercy, three others went to Grossmont, and again, sheriff's department just confirmed to me there has been at least one fatality in this, and it was a student. They're not release the name. But one fatality has now been reported in a very, very tragic thing.

And as you heard, one of the freshman who was talking -- he knew him. He knew apparently the shooter, and said -- but didn't believe him -- that he was going to go through with this sort of thing. My God, what a lesson learned from Columbine, that you do have to say it, but he didn't report it.

That's the update that we have for you right now. We are going to try to get some more information for you as it comes in.

BILL GRIFFITH, KGTV ANCHOR: How sad, Bob. It's up until this point there were injuries but no fatalities reported.

LAWRENCE: We knew that at least one, maybe more, may be critical. We knew at least one. Let me turn around now and -- go ahead, Bill.

That young man we talked with there is now being talked to by the sheriff's deputies from what he knows, and that he was with him over the weekend. A young man apparently identified as the shooter, we're not going to release his name, because the authorities have not, but that young man we talked with said, he thought he was joking and obviously it's no joke. And the sheriff's department did confirm one fatality at this hour. Bill, let me bring it back to you; I'm going to try to regroup out here and get some more information.

GRIFFITH: All right, Bob, we're just a minute or so away from our 10 news midday normally scheduled newscast.

So let us recap: at two minutes before 11:00 on this Monday, March 5th, tragedy and gunfire at Santana High School in Santee.

Well, at about 9:20 this morning, gunfire erupted on the campus of Santana High School. One lone gunman shooting. What we know now that there have been multiple victims as we heard from Bob at this point. One fatality. This happened in between the first and the start of the second block, the second period of the school this morning, so the hallways, the quad area, all very crowded because the students were in between classes.

The students report to us that they saw victims on the ground, and at first, many of them had no idea what was talking place, they thought it was a cap gun or they thought it was fireworks, and then when they realized what happened, they started to run.

And here's what we know: one confirmed death, at least 10 others injured. The suspect, again, is in custody, the school has been evacuated -- although, at one point, we know that, just up to a few minutes ago, that some of the students were still in lockdown as the S.W.A.T. Team did a room by room sweep of the campus there at Santana High School.

GRIFFITH: A student eyewitness named John Sharp told 10 News earlier this morning that he saw the gun firing his weapon: a handgun with a long barrel, from the boy's restroom into the quad, which you saw a moment ago from Sky10, and as he was firing, he was smiling as he selected his targets.

Our Lee Ann Kim is live in Sky10 over the scene right now -- Lee Ann.

KIM: Yes, we've been watching the front of the school where there were several ambulances there, and we're looking at one right now that's finally leaving. What we're going to do is we're going to watch and see if this ambulance goes over to Mercy Air-2 (ph), which would indicate that there is another victim there in serious injury -- excuse me?

Oh, it looks like the ambulance is in fact going to bypass Mercy Air but is heading over to the hospital which leads us to believe that there are no more serious injured victims here at Santana High School.


KIM: Like we said, we had heard about other victims who are not as seriously injured that might have been just hanging out, some which left the school and actually even went home afterwards. So, we really don't know the extent of the number of victims we have.

VILLARREAL: All right, let's recap for you where the victims are that we know of. Seven of them are at Sharp Hospital. I believe one is a 17-year-old male with gunshot wound to the neck. Another a 16- year-old male who was shot in the back. Possibly, UCSD Medical Center, a 14-year-old male and 17-year-old student of unknown gender. Also, Grossmont Hospital has two victims and Alvarado has one victim, and as we just reported a couple of minutes ago, first here on 10 News, that one of the teenaged victims, we understand has passed away, has died from the gunshot wound.

LAKE: We should also let you know that the mall directly across the street from Santana High School, the Del Taco there at the Albertson's Shopping Center has been designated as a place where the parents come to find their children and be reunited with them.

So again, parents are urged to go to the Del Taco there. It's at Magnolia and Mast. The El Cajon Police Departartment (ph) is assisting the sheriff's department in organizing all that. There are school officials there in that parking to try to help reunite parents with their students. VILLARREAL: For a firsthand look at that, let's go to Kim Edwards on the ground, who's been covering this story for us. Kim, what can you tell us?

EDWARDS: A quick update for you. We interviewed Josh Stevens, who claimed to be a friend of the alleged freshman shooter and they have taken Josh away for questioning. He claimed that this weekend they discussed the fact that was something the student wanted to do, but Josh clearly said he didn't ever take this kid seriously. Meantime, I am joined by some ore Santana students. You've got your camera there. You were taking pictures or running?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, first we all ran to the locker rooms and they told everybody to go to the back gate, and then started to go to Del Taco. But I came back and got my camera and started taking a whole roll of pictures stuff.

EDWARDS: Any particular reason? I mean, you hear shots, you heard somebody's firing and you went and got your camera?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just because it's a big media and I'll probably want to remember it or something.

EDWARDS: What's running through your mind that this is your school?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I wouldn't believe it happens here because it's only Santana. And we just have that Columbine thing a while back. But I didn't think it'd happen here at all.

EDWARDS: How about you? Tell me your name, I'm sorry I didn't get....


EDWARDS: Matt Finny.

FINNY: I didn't even -- I was like across the hall from it and I didn't even know there was gunshots. I thought it was fireworks so I was just checking out it, what happened and people started ducking and covering and some guy went down, one of the narcs went down. I guess he got hit. And so we all were instructed in our classrooms and we didn't know anything until we got out here that it was actually gunshots.

EDWARDS: How did they actually got you from your classrooms out here?

FINNY: The police came to our classroom and escorted us on the outside campus and told us to come over here.

EDWARDS: And you said a narc got shot. Clarify for everyone what's that?

FINNY: Oh, a campus supervisor. He's...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a baby-sitter.

FINNY: Yes, he watches us when we're on break and stuff.

EDWARDS: OK, have you talked to anybody that saw it happen in terms of how it all went down?

FINNY: No, I just -- I was coming through the hall and I saw everybody running. I thought there was maybe a fight. So, I went to check it out and I just started hearing these popping, popping. I thought it was fireworks. So, I didn't think of anything of it. Then I saw the campus supervisor go down, I was like geez. So, then one of the other people came over and instructed me to my classroom and we came over here.

EDWARDS: OK, you guys have any idea if there was any motivation behind this? Have you heard anything about that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just heard that the kid was -- had it planned, but that's just what I heard. I don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that's all we've heard.

EDWARDS: OK, all right. I appreciate your time so much.


EDWARDS: These kids have been really nice to us out here, stepping up when we ask them to. Let me go ahead and toss it back to you guys.

WATERS: Back here at CNN Center, Lou Waters. We're following along with KGTV's coverage of the shooting at 9:25 a.m. this morning, San Diego time. There are about three hours behind us here in the east. We are just shortly after 2:00 now. Several shots fired, people down, came in the original 911 call to San Diego Sheriff's Department.

The latest report is 10 injured, one critical. Now, KGTV in San Diego is reporting one student died. We have not yet been able to confirm that but we have been told by the San Diego Sheriff's Department that a campus supervisor was among those included on the injured list. Now, the campus supervisor, as you have heard, is often referred to as the narc. That's a pejorative term applied to these people who keep a watch over students as they march from class to class.

And he shooting took place between classes, between the first and second periods, or blocks as they call them out in San Diego. The shooting in and outside of a boy's restroom with people down in the hallways and in the restrooms, we understand, have not gotten the clear idea of just how many people were injured because some of the students took off to nearby homes with their wounds. They later were hooked up with rescue team from the fire department.

We did see one medevac helicopter in the area, we assume with the most critically injured. There was one person reported as critical, and we don't know who that is. Hospitals in the area were placed on alert and there are at least four of them receiving wounded victims now.

What's going on at the moment is the reuniting of students and their parents in a parking lot about 200 yards away from the school where they were evacuated. Inside the school, there's a SWAT team going from room to room making sure the school is secure.

We understand there's still some students inside in what's called lockdown. They're being released as soon as SWAT gets to them and guarantees their safety out of the school and over to the evacuation area -- Natalie.

ALLEN: The victims have been taken to several area hospitals. One of the hospitals is Shape Hospital, and we have Leslie Ridgeway on the line with us from there.

Mrs. Ridgeway, what can you tell us about the victims at your hospital?

LESLIE RIDGEWAY, SHARP HEALTHCARE: Right now, all we know is we have seven victims at Sharp Memorial Hospital and one victim at our Grossmont Hospital in the east county.

ALLEN: What can you tell us about the extent of those victim's injuries and are they all students?

RIDGEWAY: Unfortunately, we don't have any information at this time about the extent of injuries and I do not know if they're all students.

ALLEN: So, you can't say whether any are critical?

RIDGEWAY: No, at this point I cannot.

ALLEN: We've had one television station reporting that one person has been killed in this shooting at the high school today. Can you confirm that?

RIDGEWAY: I don't know, because we did not get that person.

ALLEN: All right, and can you tell us if all those in your hospital, if they're students, are their parents with them?

RIDGEWAY: I do not know that at this time.

ALLEN: Anything else you can add?

RIDGEWAY: No, we're trying very hard to get as much information as fast as we can. As you might imagine, it's a little bit chaotic right now trying to get everything together and provide the best care possible. As soon as we know, we'll get back to everybody and let you know.

ALLEN: All right, absolutely. We thank you.

RIDGEWAY: You're welcome.

ALLEN: Again, we're hearing 10 injured, one critical. We don't know if that one critical could be the one report we've heard of a fatality. CNN is trying to confirm that report that there's been one person killed.

WATERS: About the alleged shooter, Natalie, he's being described as a ninth-grader. That would make him about 14 or 15 years of age, who over the weekend, according to some of his friends, asked those friends to join him in whatever he had planned for today.

So again, we're hearing in association with a school shooting that there was some kind of advance indication that this was going to happen. The shooter was described as smiling as he shot his way from the boy's restroom at Santana High School into the highway and back into the restroom once again.

That alleged shooter is under arrest by the San Diego Sheriff's Department who we were told arrived at the scene of the shooting within two minutes of the original call at 9:22 this morning. So, the alleged shooter is under arrest. What the sheriff's department now is trying to determine if there may be anyone else in the school who may have taken part in this shooting, someone who may have agreed over the weekend to join this young man in this shooting incident at the school.

We will continue watching this story, as will KGTV, our affiliate in San Diego. We will take a quick break and return in just a moment.




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