Student kills 2 classmates, wounds 13 near San Diego
SANTEE, California (CNN) -- A 15-year-old student killed two classmates at a California high school and wounded another 13 people before his arrest Monday, police said.
The shooting occurred about 9:20 a.m. Monday (12:20 p.m. EST) at Santana High School in Santee, California, about 10 miles northeast of San Diego. One of the victims was found dead at the school, while a second, a 15-year-old boy, died at nearby Grossmont Hospital, spokeswoman Eileen Cornish said.
In addition, San Diego County Sheriff William Kolender said, "There are two or three adults among the 15 that are supervisors at the school."
Student John Schardt said the freshman boy arrested in the shooting was smiling when he allegedly emerged from a restroom with a long-barreled gun.
"He was looking around, smiling, with his weapon. He fired two more shots and went back in," Schardt said. He said authorities with guns drawn arrested the suspect in the bathroom.
Schardt said he photographed the incident and another student videotaped the carnage -- material that has since been confiscated by authorities. California law means the 15-year-old suspect is likely to be charged as an adult, San Diego County District Attorney Paul Pfingst said.
"Investigators are now putting together the case and are interviewing literally hundreds, hundreds of witnesses," Pfigst said. He said the boy would be arraigned later this week in Superior Court and the charges would include murder, assault and assault with a deadly weapon.
Fellow students told CNN affiliate KGTV the youth arrested in the shooting was a ninth-grader who had threatened to shoot someone at the school before.
"We didn't think he would do it," student Josh Stevens said. KGTV said Stevens was questioned by authorities after giving that account to reporters.
Santana High School will be closed Tuesday and counselors will be available at a nearby church, Principal Karen Degaschir said.
"This is my worst nightmare," Degaschir said. "I'm very concerned about the students. I'm very concerned about their families right now, and I'm concerned about my staff."
Neither Degaschir nor Kolender would comment on why the boy turned on his classmates.
"We don't know the motive, so we don't know whether it was random or not," Kolander said.
The school has about 1,900 students and 80 faculty and staff. One of the wounded was a sheriff's deputy assigned to the school, Sheriff's Department spokesman Ron Reina said.
"Our SWAT team is still going through and clearing the campus looking for any additional victims or suspects," San Diego County Sheriff's Department spokesman Pete Carillo said Monday afternoon. But Kolander said there was no other gunman "to our knowledge at this point."
Students were quickly evacuated to a parking lot across the street from the school, police said. Schardt described the scene as "complete chaos. Everyone scrambled."
Added student Alicia Zimmer, "Everybody was running. A whole lot of people were crying. Nobody knew what really happened."
She said there was a girl nearby with "blood all over her arm" and another with blood on her hand. Then all of a sudden, we heard more shots going off," she said. "It sounded more like a cap gun than anything. It was really scary. Everybody was running."
The attack occurred while some students were arriving at school. After the shooting, teacher and campus security gathered the students into classrooms.
"The school had plans in place to deal with a variety of situations, including fire, earthquake, hostages situations," said Santana High School Principal Karen Degischer.
She said the school does not have metal detectors, but relies on campus security personnel.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said local law enforcement officials have asked them to assist with the investigation. And In Washington, President Bush offered his condolences "to the teachers and the children whose lives have been turned upside-down right now."
Bush called the shooting "a disgraceful act of cowardice," adding, "When America teaches our children right from wrong and teaches values that respect life in our country, we'll be better off."
But, he said, "First things are first. And our prayers go out to the families that lost a child today."
"We are not going to let the shots that were fired today pierce the heart of this community," said Sand Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob. "We will survive. And we will be stronger because of it."
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Santana High School
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