Students Return to Symbols of Unity at Saugus High School Nearly Three Weeks After Shooting

Two students were killed on the campus Nov. 14 when a 16-year-old classmate opened fire in an outdoor quad area

What to Know

  • Two students were killed Nov. 14 when a classmate opened fire at Saugus High School north of LA
  • Students return to class Monday for the first time since the tragedy on the Santa Clarita campus
  • Mental health and support providers will be at the school Monday and for as long as needed for the rest of the year

Students returned to Saugus High School Monday nearly three weeks after a 16-year-old boy shot five classmates, killing two and wounding three on the campus in Santa Clarita.

Staff members were waiting at entrance gates to greet students. There are blue ribbons and signs emblazoned with "Saugus Strong" throughout the campus north of Los Angeles, symbols of unity in the wake of tragedy.

"Please keep sending your support. Please keep sending you love," said student body President Andrei Mojica. "All the kindness... has meant the world to us.

"It's going to be really difficult, but I know through this sense of community, we'll be ok."

The community has been mourning since the Nov. 14 shooting, expressing grief and support for the victims at vigils and memorials. Gracie Anne Muehlberger, 15, and Dominic Blackwell, 14, were killed. Three students wounded in the shooting have since left the hospital to recover at home.

The shooter, who had just turned 16 that day, turned the gun on himself and died at a hospital. 

"On behalf of the Saugus family, we want to thank everyone for the countless acts of kindness and compassion that have been extended by friends, neighbors, local churches, community groups, local, state and national leaders," Deputy Superintendent Mike Kuhlman said. "Let us take courage in knowing that we are stronger as we stand together to face this crisis."

Saugus High students will be on a Minimum Day schedule Monday and Tuesday, with shorter class times leading to dismissal at 12:21 p.m.

Mental health and support providers will be at the school Monday and for as long as needed for the rest of the year, district officials said.

"A lot of us are dealing with problems and issues we never thought we'd deal with our entire lives," said Mojica. "It's crucial to talk to someone.

"We're taking the time to find ourselves again."

A sheriff's deputy will be posted at sites throughout the school district with additional law enforcement presence around each campus. Campus supervisors and district office administrators will also be at schools to address the needs of students and families.

The only entry points will be the main office gate, the D building gate and the gate located near the bike racks. Students at other campuses in the William S. Hart Union High School District, who have already resumed classes, will also have fewer ways to get onto campuses starting Monday.

"School staff will be busy supporting grieving students and trying to restore as much normalcy as possible during this difficult time," the William S. Hart Union High School District said on its website. "For the first week back, we will limit access to campus to students, staff, and parents who need to contact the office. We ask that all offers of services and other donations, media questions, and non-urgent school related issues be directed to the district office in order to allow staff to focus on educating and supporting students."

A week after the shooting, Sheriff Alex Villanueva revealed the gun used in the attack was a "ghost gun," assembled from parts and untraceable because it had no serial number. Villanueva said the attack was planned, but authorities have not determined a motive.

More guns were found at the home of the shooter's family -- a troubling discovery for detectives, sources told NBC4, because deputies had seized and destroyed uns several years ago that had once belonged to the teen's father. The guns were seized as the result of a mental health inquiry, and that event would have precluded the father from buying any additional guns. The father died in late 2017, and his son was too young to purchase any firearms or ammunition himself.

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