TAFT (CBS13) — A student was shot and wounded at a San Joaquin Valley high school Thursday and a fellow student was taken into custody, officials said.
The shooting occurred about 9 a.m. at Taft Union High School in the city of Taft, an oil and agricultural community about 30 miles outside of Bakersfield with about 9,500 residents.
The accused shooter didn’t show up for class Thursday morning. Instead, police say halfway through first period, he entered the classroom and opened fire.
Armed with a shotgun, the 16-year-old student fired as many as four rounds, hitting a fellow classmate. That student, also 16, is at the hospital in critical but stable condition.
Kacie Massoni was inside the classroom.
“He comes in the classroom with a gun and he just shoots,” she said. “I was just like, ‘This can’t be real. I don’t know what to do.’ I was in shock.”
As students ducked for cover, she helped her friend, bleeding from a gunshot wound.
“The guy that got shot, I was holding him,” she said. “I have blood on my sweatshirt from it.”
He then yelled out the name of another student and fired at him but missed. A teacher suffered a minor pellet wound to the head.
Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said the teacher tried to get other students out a back door, then he and another staff member engaged the shooter in conversation to distract him and eventually convinced him to put down the gun. The student was heavily armed, Youngblood said.
“If it weren’t for this teacher and the quick response, we don’t know what might have happened,” He said. “He had several rounds, maybe as many as 20, in his pocket.”
Youngblood said the shooter and victim obviously had previous interactions but didn’t know if bullying was what prompted the shooting.
“There was some talk this morning about bullying. We have not confirmed that that is an issue at this point, but obviously something occurred for this student to come in with a shotgun,” he said.
“He was just kind of a little nerdy and people picked on him and I think he just kind of got tired of it,” student Meghen Alonzo said.
CBS13 learned that the shooting suspect was suspended last year for having a hit list. The sheriff wouldn’t comment on that during his briefing Thursday.
A female student was also hospitalized to have her hearing checked after the shotgun blast went off next to her.
Counseling was made available to students and staff and the school will be closed Friday.