He used his last bullet to shoot himself after targeting his schoolmates Thursday — the same day he turned 16. His motive remains a mystery.
Shortly before school started for the day, the shooter walked into a campus area known as the quad, took a .45-caliber pistol from his backpack and shot the people near him. Then he turned the gun on himself.
Two students, Grace Anne Muehlberger, 15, and Dominic Blackwell, 14, died at a hospital, authorities said. Three other teens were wounded and are expected to survive.
Chloe Rogers said her friend Muehlberger had a bubbly personality and knew how to make her friends laugh.
“We would always share our silly jokes with each other, make Vine references, and laugh forever. Her laugh was a laugh that would make you laugh harder. She always had something kind to say and knew how to hype up her friends. I love her so much and going to school knowing she won’t come up to me at random times to talk is heartbreaking.”
A search for answers
Investigators are digging into the suspect’s social media and background. He was identified as Nathaniel Berhow and lived with his mother. His father died in 2017 of natural causes.
There appears to be no connection between the shooter and the victims other than all were students, the sheriff said.
“There’s nothing really that stands out (with the suspect). He wasn’t a loner. Wasn’t socially awkward. Was involved in student activities. Student athlete,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told CNN’s New Day. “This is kind of out of the blue, shocking pretty much everyone who knew him.”
The shooter did not chase anyone during the shooting and appeared to randomly target the people around him, Villanueva said.
Saugus High School had an active shooter drill just a few weeks ago, and the faculty and students did exactly as they were trained, he said.
Off-duty officers rushed in to help
An off-duty detective was dropping off his girlfriend’s son at Saugus High School when he saw hundreds of students running from the campus Thursday morning. He pulled in and asked a student what was going on.
Someone was shooting, Detective Daniel Finn was told.
He and another off-duty officer found two of the five victims and the shooter still on the ground in the quad. Finn said he saw the shooter’s gun but wasn’t aware one of the people being treated was the gunman.
“My main concern then was securing the scene, treating the victims, and trying to make sure there wasn’t an additional shooter,” Finn told reporters Friday.
Finn, a former school resource deputy now with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, told an administrator to grab medical aid bags from the school office. A third off-duty officer helped treat the victims until medical help arrived.
CNN’s Cheri Mossburg, Brian Ries, Jason Hanna and Joe Sutton contributed to this report.