Taft school shooting suspect to be charged as adult
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) The 16-year-old boy suspected of blasting a classmate with a shotgun at Taft Union High School is being as an adult.
Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green said Monday that Bryan Oliver will faces five charges, including two counts of attempted murder. The teenager was in Kern County Superior Count Monday afternoon, where he was arraigned and ordered back to court in late February.
Defense attorney David Torres first argued there should be no cameras allowed on the courtroom.
"For the obvious reason that my client is 16 years old, he's a juvenile," Torres said later. "We believe he shouldn't be exposed to the cameras at this particular time."
Judge Michael Lewis disagreed, saying in light of the circumstances of the case and current public interest, the public has a strong int erst in knowing about the proceedings.
Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green said her department made the decision to try Oliver as an adult, because that is appropriate in this case.
"The factors that we considered in this decision were the circumstances surrounding the incident, the fact that a firearm was used, the severity of the injuries to Bowe Cleveland," Lisa Green. "And the evidence of premeditation and deliberation."
Sixteen-year-old Bowe Cleveland has been identified as the student allegedly shot by Oliver inside a science class Thursday morning.
Monday evening, Kern Medical Center trauma surgeon Dr. Ruby Skinner told Eyewitness News Cleveland is improving. She said the teenager is still in critical condition, but doctors are starting to wake him up from his artificially-induced coma, and his condition is no longer considered life threatening.
The other attempted murder charge against Oliver applies to classmate Jacob Nichols, who apparently wasn't injured.
Students from that class have told Eyewitness News he was apparently a second intended victim. Oliver reportedly called for Jacob by name. "After he asked for the student like three times, the student popped his head up from behind where he was hiding and apologized," student Morgan Alldredge said, adding that boy apologized for bullying.
The suspect claimed he was pushed to violence because of bullying, the sheriff's office said last week. Unconfirmed but widely circulated reports indicate Oliver had compiled a "hit list" of fellow students.
Green couldn't confirm nor deny the hit list.
In the case against Oliver, a sheriff's report filed in court says "Oliver was interviewed and admitted to firing the weapon at (Bowe) and Jacob because they 'annoyed' and 'bullied' Oliver."
On Thursday, Oliver allegedly barged into the science class after missing the beginning of school, armed with a shotgun. The sheriff's office said it has surveillance vice of the nervous-acting suspect carrying the concealed shotgun into school.
After Cleveland was shot and several rounds were fired inside the classroom, teacher Ryan Heber engaged the alleged shooter in conversation, trying to stop the attack. A campus supervisor, Kim Fields, was in the area and also engaged the suspect in conversation. They talked the shooter into putting down the gun.
The teacher ended up grazed by one shot, and declined medical attention.
The county's chief prosecutor said in filing charges against Oliver as an adult, she also considered that rehabilitation by age 23 is the mission of the juvenile justice system, and that was unlikely to occur for this suspect.
Green said Oliver could be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison on just one of the attempted murder charges, with the gun enhancement.
The D.A. said details about the case will not be released to ensure the case is protected and to protect the defendant's right to a fair trial.
Defense attorney David Torres said he had just gotten the case, and needs time to review it. He's also not saying much yet. Asked about the teenager defendant, Torres said he's "doing just fine."
He had no comment on Oliver being charged as an adult. The D.A. is confident in that decision.
"Every shooting at a school is different," Green said. "We're comfortable with the decision that we made today, and we'll move forward and attempt to obtain justice for the victims in this case, just like we do in every case."
Oliver faces two counts of attempted murder and three of assault with a firearm. He pleaded not guilty to the five felony charges and the judge set bail at $1.5 million.
Classes resume Tuesday at the high school.