Detectives searching for motive in attack that killed two students
Sadly, there has been another tragic school shooting, this time at the Los Angeles area’s Saugus High School.
The alleged teen shooter, who killed two students and then turned the gun on himself, has died from his self-inflicted bullet wound to the head.
Nathaniel Berhow, 16, was pronounced dead at about 3:30 p.m. on Friday, a day and a half after the shooting on the grounds of the Santa Clarita high school, CBS Los Angeles reported, citing the Los Angeles Sheriff’s office.
Berhow, an experienced gunman, had first killed two classmates — 14-year-old Dominic Blackwell and 15-year-old Gracie Anne Muehlberger — and injured three others before firing his last bullet into his head and dropping his empty gun, police said.
Investigators are still searching for a motive for the attack.
Detectives have conducted 40 interviews and still have six to go in their efforts to piece together what led up to the shooting in Santa Clarita. It is not clear how the shooter got the weapon, a .45-caliber handgun. However, authorities say that at this point, they do not think the shooter targeted specific students.
Authorities seized several unregistered firearms from the home of the teenager, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is working with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to trace the origins of the handgun used in the shooting, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said.
“We are chasing all the leads available,” Villanueva said. “At this stage, we don’t know the motive.”
Fellow students who knew Berhow are in shock over the killings.
“I literally thought he was a normal kid,” said Brizio DelRosario, 16, who ran with Berhow on the Junior Varsity Cross Country team. “We would run together sometimes. The last time I saw him was at a race about 2 weeks ago, he was totally normal. I started next to him and he wished me luck.”
He wasn’t a quiet or a weird kid,” DelRosario said.
Another teammate, who asked that his name not be used, said the student, whom they called Nathan, was in a group of about 7 or 8 friends who all ran track at Saugus High and went to parties together. He said he knew Nathan “very well” and that he is “the sweetest kid you’ll ever meet.”
He said he first met Nathan when Nathan was a freshman and he was a sophomore. They became close friends shortly after Nathan’s father passed away in 2017.
“Nathan is shy,” the friend said. “I saw Nathan yesterday, we went on a hill run with maybe four guys. He was totally normal, cracking jokes as usual.”
Neighbors indicate Berhow’s father had passed away about a year ago.
…Jared Axen, believed the suspect had been going through a tough time in his life.
“From what I understand, the suspect had been the one who had found his father’s body inside the house. You’re always looking, as a community, for ways you can reach out to the person next to you, someone you know is going through something,” Axen said. “What’s hard is that the answer you sometimes get is, ‘Oh, I’m fine.’ You need to be wiling to press them for information.”
Friends of Gracie Muehlberger, the first Santa Clarita school shooting fatality to be identified, are sharing their memories of the freshman.
Saugus sophomore class president Victoria Phan described Gracie as a “bubbly” and “friendly” girl who was always smiling and laughing.
“She was this super sweet girl,” Phan, 15, told BuzzFeed News. “She had tons of friends was always very nice and caring.”
A 14-year-old friend of Gracie’s told BuzzFeed News that she was an “all-American girl.”
“You just had to love her,” said a friend of Gracie Muehlberger, who was killed in Thursday’s school shooting. “She always had a smile on her face.” https://t.co/7hXAf1OTog
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) November 15, 2019
Friends are also paying tribute to the second slain victim, 14-year-old Dominic Blackwell.
Anthony Martinez, a student at Canyon High School, described Dominic as not only his friend and football teammate, but also a brother.
“He was always smiling, making people laugh, spreading positiv[ity], he was the sweetest kid ever and such a good kid,” Martinez wrote on Instagram. “We need more people like you in this world.”
Today a lil guy with a big heart lost his life in the Saugus Shooting. He was always smiling making people laugh, always positive, he was the sweetest kid ever and such a good kid. We need more people like you long live dominic blackwell, love you?❤ #LLDB #santaclaritashooting pic.twitter.com/lAE7lfImJM
— anthony martinez (@martin3zanthony) November 15, 2019
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