Santa Clarita shooting: Saugus High suspect not a threat, officials say

At least five people were injured — two critically — when a gunman opened fire at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita early Thursday, authorities said.

The shooting was reported at the campus at 21900 Centurion Way about 7:40 a.m., prompting a massive law enforcement response. Paramedics treated the wounded at the school while authorities searched for a 15-year-old boy suspected in the shooting.

After a roughly hourlong search, authorities said that the shooter is no longer a threat to the campus but that his exact condition and whether he had been apprehended was unclear.

Television footage showed a chaotic scene at the high school, with teenagers walking in a line behind armed law enforcement officials with their arms raised in the air.

Several students were placed on gurneys and transported to ambulances in the school’s parking lot. Many of the wounded were being treated in a grassy area on the campus. At least one person was found injured in the school’s choir room, authorities said.

All schools in the William S. Hart District were locked down as authorities searched for the shooter. Authorities were centering much of their focus on the area of brush behind the high school adjacent to a creek where authorities suspected the teen might be hiding. Law enforcement officials were also searching the backyards of homes along Sycamore Creek Drive.

MORE COVERAGE: Lockdowns, details on injuries, school closures, advisories

The suspect is described as a 15-year-old boy who authorities believe is a student at the school. The teen was last seen wearing a black hat and black clothing, sheriff’s officials said. Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also assisted with the search.

Parents are being directed to Central Park on Bouquet Canyon to be reunited with their children.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department “has a large response which includes SWAT. Our mission is to not only locate and arrest the suspect but protect others from harm,” Undersheriff Tim Murakami said. “Please pray for the recovery of the victims and the safety of the responding deputies.”

Denzel Abesamis, a senior at Saugus, was driving to school and about to turn onto campus when he saw classmates running out and turned around. He called a friend who he knew was on campus. She told him there was a shooter and she was hiding in a classroom with five other students.

His freshman year they’d also had a lockdown after reports of a threat.

“I’ve always been worried about something like this would happen since it was my actual school,” he said. “Saugus has emphasized the importance of making sure to always be cautious of anything that may happen like an active shooter.”

Former Rep. Katie Hill stood in her backyard in Saugus as helicopters circled overheard searching for the gunman. Hill graduated from Saugus High School in 2004, when active shooter drills were never discussed. Thursday morning, her father sent her a text alerting her to the news.

“I’m absolutely horrified that it’s happening at my school,” she said. “Last heard the shooter was on the move towards the elementary school I went to.”

The community is a close-knit one. Hill said that several of her staffers are graduates of the high school, and currently know parents with students at the school.

“This is what we’ve all been afraid of,” she said.

The shooting came two months after six students at the high school were detained on felony criminal charges after authorities were alerted to threats the teenagers had made online. A Hart Union staff member discovered the social media posts “regarding committing acts of school violence” and alerted authorities, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

Detectives quickly determined who had made the posts, according to the agency. It’s unclear whether those threats were connected Thursday’s shooting.

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