What to Know
- Two students, a 14-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl, were killed Thursday in a shooting at Saugus High School
- Three other students were injured in the shooting at the campus' quad area
- The shooter shot himself in the head. He is not expected to survive.
Mourners gathered at a park Thursday night just hours after a horrific shooting at a Southern California high school to remember the victims and share words of comfort during a day of pain and grieving.
Central Park had been used earlier that day as a reunification point for families and students, some sharing a tearful embrace. Many returned to the park for Thursday night's vigil.
"It's like a dream," said Laren Wells, a sophomore. "But not a good dream, like a nightmare you can't wake up from."
Everytown.org defines the incidents mapped below as any time a firearm discharges a live round inside or into a school building or on or onto a school campus or grounds, as documented by the press and, when necessary, confirmed through further inquiries with law enforcement or school officials. Incidents in which guns were brought into schools but not discharged are not included.
The nightmare began when a student who had just turned 16 Thursday pulled a handgun from his backpack and opened fire on a group of classmates in the campus quad area. Two students, a 14-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl, were killed.
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Three other students were injured. They include two girls, ages 14 and 15, who are in good condition and recovering at a hospital. A 14-year-old boy was treated and released Thursday.
The shooting sent students scrambling for cover while others barricaded themselves inside classrooms or offices.
Another vigil is planned for Sunday night.
On Thursday night, students and family members gathered at a large church service and a nighttime vigil with the hope of bringing some kind of peace from the madness.
Junior ROTC squad leader Joshua Mourthi said the murder of a fellow cadet, whose name has not been officially released, inspired his squad to organize the nighttime meetup.
"We heard one of our cadets was wounded and another was in the hospital," he said. "Thought we'd get together to support him. Eventually we did find out, he did pass."
The shooting affected students who were nowhere close.
"I was like two minutes away," said Layla Gilstrap, a sophomore. "We got notification from the district, 'Turn around! Go home! There's a shooting at Saugus High School!'"
It was alarming.
"My friend was in the room with one of the girls that was injured," Gilstrap said. "Had to stop her from bleeding, can't imagine."
Wells said one of the girls who was shot is also on the tennis team.
"She was going through surgery," Wells said. "We're praying for her right now."
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At Grace Baptist Church, between 600 and 700 people gathered for a service Thursday evening because “no one wants to be alone right now,” the pastor said.
“We were just praying that those kids would make it. My heart just goes out to the families that aren’t able to hug their kids tonight,” parent Chelsea Kay said.
Three of the victims, including the two that lost their lives, were members of the Real Life Church in Valencia, which also held a service for 1,800 attendees.
Among them was Saugus student Brandon Dutt, who heard two or three gunshots before he called his mom.
"He’s calling me, and he says, ‘Mom, I have to run, I’m running, because there’s a shooter,’” Winnie Dutt, Brandon’s mother and member of the church, said through tears.
"A couple hundred kids were trying to squeeze through this one exit, trying to get from one exit to the back of the school," Brandon said.
Pastor Rusty George said his congregation recognizes the power of grieving together, and that the victims’ families were shocked and devastated.
"It’s just really hard to imagine that I dropped my son off, and that could’ve been the last time I saw him,” Dutt said.