Confusion followed the first few gunshots that were fired on the quad of Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California, on Thursday morning. But as the shots continued to ring out, confusion turned to terror.
Talking to the Los Angeles Times, 17-year-old Andrei Mojica said he was in his AP government class with about 30 other students when there was a commotion outside the classroom. When someone shouted that there was a shooter on campus, he and his classmates took action.
Desks and tables were thrust up against the door. The students sat in their dark classroom in silence, hiding.
“We had no clue whether the shooter was on the opposite side of campus or right outside our door,” Monica said. “That fear made it feel like we were waiting in silence forever.”
Three years ago, senior Denzel Abesamis was a freshman when there was a false report of a shooter at the school, which has left him on high alert ever since.
“We locked the door and turned off the light,” he says. “I texted my family telling them I’m alright now and that I loved them.”
He tells PEOPLE that at about 7:30 p.m., he was driving his black BMW towards school when he saw students scattered, running from campus.
“I automatically knew something bad was happening,” he says. He immediately turned around and drove home. “You would never know that something like this would happen at your school and now that it has happened, it feels weird and strange.”
He later texted a classmate who told him they were safe after hiding in their classroom.
“I was worried about my friends who might be affected by this. I was able to text them and found out they were okay.”
The shooting Thursday morning at Saugus High School was perpetrated by a 16-year-old student whose birthday was today, Los Angeles County authorities said at a Thursday afternoon press conference.
Authorities said the shooter removed a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol from his backpack and opened fire on the quad, shooting five students before shooting himself in the head.
The shooting was captured on a school surveillance camera. Authorities received calls about the shooting starting at 7:38 a.m.
“It’s a sad day in Saugus,” L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at the press conference.
The deceased victims are a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy.
Other students hit by gunfire include a 14-year-old girl, a 15-year-old girl, and another 14-year-old boy. Their conditions were not made public.
Another student was injured but was not hit by gunfire.
The shooter has not been identified but was taken to the hospital into custody. Authorities say he is in “grave” condition.
Authorities said all of the victims and the suspect are students at the school.
Authorities said they are investigating a motive and executed a search warrant on the shooter’s home.
A student named Andrew spoke to KABC, and said he was in class when “a loud bang happened,” which led several students to head for the door.
“Kids said there was a shooter, so we pushed all the desks up against the door, and barricaded ourselves in,” he said. “It was a big mess.”
Another student, Lauren Farmer, told KABC she did not think the noises she was hearing were gunfire until there were three successive shots, coming one after another. She said the shooting started in an outdoor common area of the school known as the quad — just as most of the students were arriving for class.
Student Alexa Funk, 15, recalled hearing the first shot, and the second, but did not get scared until the third bullet was fired.
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“I knew it was bad,” Bunk said. “It was a very scary moment. Kids were running everywhere. I saw people falling to the floor and I ran into an office.”
Farmer said it was a terrifying situation and she feared, as she tried to escape, that she’d be shot.
“You can’t outrun a gun,” she said.