Teen gunman who killed two in shooting rampage at California high school dies in hospital

Michael James


Published 8: 33 PM EST Nov 15, 2019

The teenager who shot five fellow students in a 16-second killing rampage at a Southern California high school has died, authorities announced Friday night.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Nathaniel Tennosuke Berhow died at about 3: 30 p.m. Friday at a hospital with his mother nearby. Berhow had been in critical condition after shooting himself following the rampage, which killed two other students.

Authorities say Berhow pulled a gun from his backpack Thursday at Saugus High School in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Clarita, shot five students at random and then shot himself in the head. It was his 16th birthday.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the shooter appeared to act deliberately, as he knew exactly how many rounds were in the firearm. “In 16 seconds he cleared a malfunction and was able to shoot five people and himself, so he seemed very familiar with the weapon,” Villanueva said Friday. “It wasn’t a spur of the moment act.”

In the attack, officials said the teenager, armed with a .45-caliber semiautomatic weapon, apparently acted alone. There was no indication that he was affiliated with a group or ideology, said Paul Delacourt, the agent in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office.

The shooting was captured on security video. Investigators say they still don’t have a motive.

The attack killed 15-year-old Gracie Muehlberger and 14-year-old Dominic Blackwell. Two girls remain hospitalized but are expected to be released this weekend.

“He doesn’t seem like the kind of kid to do this,” said Brooke Risley, a 16-year-old junior at Saugus High School

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Risley said he was a quiet, normal student with whom she had attended the same schools since elementary. He ran track and cross country while his girlfriend, with whom sheriff’s deputies say they are in contact, was on the swim team. He was also a Boy Scout.

Joe Fitzpatrick, a senior who helped the teacher in Berhow’s physics class, called him a “good, quiet kid” who didn’t miss assignments and did well on tests.

“He just seemed like one of those regular kids,” Fitzpatrick said.

Berhow’s father died in December 2017, according to obituary information and a Facebook tribute. Next-door-neighbor Jared Axen, 33, said the teen was reestablishing ties with his father prior to his sudden passing.

Authorities have not identified a motive or rationale and have uncovered no manifesto, diary, suicide note or writings. Police are still analyzing the weapon and how Berhow may have obtained it.

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