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Sheriff: California gunman made plan to shoot bullies

Published January 10, 2013 8:16 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Taft, Calif. • Authorities say a boy who fired on classmates and wounded one at a rural California high school had planned the attack and targeted students he felt had bullied him for more than a year.

Kern County sheriff Donny Youngblood said at a news conference Thursday night that the 16-year-old used a shotgun that belonged to his brother and went to bed Wednesday night with a plan to shoot two fellow students.

Youngblood says surveillance video shows the boy trying to conceal the gun as he nervously enters Taft Union High School through a side entrance after school had started Thursday morning.

When the shots were fired, teacher Ryan Heber tried to get the more than two dozen students out a back door and engaged the shooter in conversation to distract him, Youngblood said. Campus supervisor Kim Lee Fields responded to a call of shots fired and also began talking to the teen.

"They talked him into putting that shotgun down. He in fact told the teacher, 'I don't want to shoot you,' and named the person that he wanted to shoot," Youngblood said.

Youngblood said the suspect alleges the two students he targeted had bullied him for more than a year, but the sheriff couldn't confirm the allegations.

"Certainly he believed that the two people he targeted had bullied him, in his mind. Whether that occurred or not we don't know yet," Youngblood said.

The Associated Press