Skip to main content /US /US

Suspect rejected by Navy before school shooting

EL CAJON, California (CNN) -- A high school senior accused of wounding three students and two teachers in a shooting at an El Cajon, California, high school was rejected when he tried to join the Navy shortly before the attack, a spokesman said Saturday.

The Navy spokesman refused to say why the suspect was rejected.

The suspect, 18-year-old Jason Hoffman, was also wounded when an El Cajon police officer on the school's campus fired at him to stop the shooting.

Navy spokesman Joe Winton said Hoffman recently tried to enlist.

"He came into the Navy recruitment station, provided information about his background and was told during the interview he was not eligible," Winton said. He would not say when the interview took place. "There are requirements for enlistment in the Navy.

"We did not gather the information, he provided it to us," Winton added.

Hoffman was listed in good condition Saturday at the University of California at San Diego Medical Center after undergoing five hours of surgery Thursday for gunshot wounds to his face and buttocks at Sharp Memorial Hospital. He is under police custody, a UCSD spokeswoman said.

San Diego County District Attorney Paul Pfingst said Friday that Hoffman will be charged with one count of attempted premeditated murder and four counts of assault with a deadly weapon, and could be arraigned next week.

Authorities still had no motive for the shooting, though El Cajon Police Chief James Davis confirmed a vice principal was the intended target.

Davis said Hoffman had skipped morning classes. He arrived at the school about 12:55 p.m. (3:55 p.m. ET), armed with a 12-gauge Mossberg shotgun and a .22-caliber pistol.

"When he saw Vice Principal [Dan] Barnes, he pointed the shotgun at Mr. Barnes and fired one round," Davis said. "Mr. Barnes was able to dive into another doorway and avoid being struck by the pellets. Hoffman then started firing indiscriminately at other people in the attendance quad area."

Davis said Hoffman owned both weapons, and officials were investigating who purchased them. Hoffman turned 18 on March 10, making it unlikely he could have purchased the weapons legally.

A search warrant executed at Hoffman's home turned up a third weapon, a black powder muzzle-loading pistol, and some computers.

"We will be examining the computers for any information that may relate to either the motive or the strategy in terms of these shootings," Pfingst said.

The shooting at the 60-acre Granite Hills High was the second area school shooting in less than a month. Six miles away on March 5, a 15-year-old student allegedly killed two and wounded 13 at Santana High School in Santee, California.

Thursday's shootings occurred about a week after a forum was held at Granite Hills on school safety, inspired by the Santana shootings. After that incident, law enforcement presence was heightened on all campuses in the Grossmont Union High School District, Ward said.

That increased presence will remain through the end of next week, he added.

CNN Producer Stanley Wilson contributed to this report.

See related sites about US
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.


Back to the top