Sheriff: Teen critically wounded in Taft high school shooting

TAFT, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) A student was critically wounded Thursday morning in a shooting at Taft Union High School.

The alleged shooter, a 16-year-old boy, missed the beginning of school before interrupting a science class, armed with a shotgun and "numerous" 12-gauge shotgun shells, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said.

Full 10-minute press conference video {>}{>}

Youngblood said the suspect planned the shooting the night before and likely used his sibling's gun.

The victim was reportedly an intended target. That victim, another 16-year-old boy whose name was withheld, was taken via medevac to Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield. He was in critical but stable condition, Youngblood said.

The suspect allegedly shot a second time at the 28 students fleeing the classroom "and miraculously didn't injure anyone," the sheriff said.

Some students got out the back door, while some barricaded themselves in a classroom storage closet.

A third and final shotgun blast was directed to the windows of the classroom.

Teacher Ryan Heber engaged the alleged shooter in conversation, trying to stop the attack. A campus supervisor was in the area and also engaged the shooter in conversation. Continue story {>}{>}

The shooter was eventually talked into laying down his gun and was taken into custody by Taft police officers, who were on campus within 60 seconds of receiving 911 calls, the sheriff said.

The alleged shooter apparently lives close to the school, and neighbors saw him carrying the gun into school and called 911.

"First and foremost, I'd like to let you know that the family members and the victim are in our thoughts and prayers for their speedy recovery," Taft Police Chief Ed Whiting said. "We're very fortunate to have the kind of response that we did today because of a very good working relationship that we have with the Kern County Sheriff's Department."

Whiting said his officers have been trained in "active-shooter" situations.

Youngblood said the suspect is being interrogated by his officers in Bakersfield. Youngblood said he's heard unconfirmed information about a "hit list," and his detectives are looking into that possibility.

The sheriff said the suspect believed he was bullied, though Youngblood didn't know if he actually was bullied.

The teacher received minor injuries but refused medical attention. One student was taken to the hospital with possible damaged hearing, because the shotgun was discharged close to her head. Another student received minor injuries while falling over a table trying to escape inside the classroom.

"We will never know what his plan was, I don't think that he probably knew what his plan was," Youngblood said. "So we wont know what might have occurred had that teacher and that counselor not stepped in, and thank God we will never know."

Taft high school classes were cancelled for Friday and will resume Monday. Counselors will be on site both days to help students, staff and parents.

Reaction from Kern County elected officials: