'I don't want to shoot you': 16-year-old student tells popular teacher
APTAFT, California/WASHINGTON -- The 16-year-old boy allegedly wounded the teenager he claimed had bullied him, fired two more rounds at students fleeing their first-period science class, then faced teacher Ryan Heber.
January 12, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
“I don't want to shoot you,” he told the popular teacher, who was trying to coax the teen into giving up the shotgun he still held.
Recounting the suspect's words, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said the confrontation was enough of a distraction to give 28 students time to escape their classroom Thursday at a California high school.
The violence came just minutes after administrators had announced new lockdown safety procedures prompted by the Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting, where a gunman last month massacred 20 children and six women before killing himself.
That shooting prompted President Barack Obama to promise new efforts to curb gun violence. Vice President Joe Biden, who was placed in charge of the initiative, said he would deliver new policy proposals to the president by Tuesday next week.
Minutes before the California shooting happened, the teachers “were giving us protocol because of what happened in Connecticut,” said student Oscar Nuno, who was across campus from the science building at Taft Union High School when an announcer on the PA system said the school was under lock down “and it was not a drill.”
The teen victim, who classmates said played football last year for the Taft Wildcats, was in critical but stable condition at a Kern County hospital Thursday night. He was expected to undergo surgery on Friday.
The suspect surrendered his shotgun to Heber and campus supervisor Kim Lee Fields. His pockets were stuffed with more ammunition, said Youngblood.
“This teacher and this counselor stood there face-to-face not knowing if he was going to shoot them,” Youngblood said. “They probably expected the worst and hoped for the best, but they gave the students a chance to escape.”
Heber's forehead had been grazed by a stray pellet, but Youngblood said the teacher who had graduated from the Taft school two decades ago was unaware he had been hit.
“He's the nicest teacher I know,” Nuno said. “He loves his students and he always wants to help.”