Authorities are still looking for a motive in the shooting spree at Saugus High School

By Laura Barcella
November 15, 2019 10:15 AM

The person who allegedly opened fire at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California, around 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, killing two students and wounding three others, has been identified as 16-year-old Nathaniel Berhow, CBS, the Los Angeles Times and CNN report, citing law enforcement sources. (The L.A. County Sheriff’s Office told PEOPLE they would not confirm the name of the suspect until the investigation was complete.)

Berhow — who friends reportedly called “Nathan” — was a Boy Scout and a member of the track team, online records at show. Classmates said he was a “good student,” according to CNN, and that he was acting “totally normal” in the days before the shooting.

Thursday was Berhow’s 16th birthday.

The suspect is in grave condition after a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His gun was recovered at the scene and had no more bullets in it, authorities said.

Authorities said they are investigating a motive and they executed a search warrant on the suspect’s home Thursday. The Los Angeles Times reports that his girlfriend and mother were at the sheriff’s office waiting to be interviewed on Thursday afternoon.

RELATED: Students Recall Horror, Chaos at Saugus High School Shooting

The attack was captured on school surveillance video.

“Detectives have reviewed the video at the scene which clearly show the subject in the quad withdraw a handgun from his backpack, shoot and wound five people, and then shoot himself in the head,” L.A. County Sheriff’s Capt. Kent Wegener stated during a Thursday news conference.

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Deputy Grace Medrano previously described the suspect to PEOPLE as an Asian male wearing a black hat and blue jeans.

Two students — a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy — were killed and a 14-year-old girl, a 15-year-old girl, and another 14-year-old boy were wounded.

Authorities received calls about the shooting at 7:38 a.m.

Los Angeles County authorities announced at a press conference that the gunman 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.

RELATED: 2 Students — Girl, 16, and Boy, 14 — Killed in Southern California High School Shooting

At a press conference Thursday evening, Dr. Larry Kidd of Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital stated that one of the injured victims was stable and had been released from the hospital, with another in critical condition. “It is a very traumatic and emotional time for victims, family,” he said.

A neighbor of the suspect described him as a “very kind, sweet boy,” according to the L.A. Times, with another neighbor describing him as “a quiet kid.”

A classmate of the suspect told the L.A. Times, “I’m bewildered and looking for answers — the question as to why all this would happen. So many questions no one has the answers to.”

Berhow’s father died in 2017, according to an online obituary.

Saugus High School posted on its website that the campus was closed until further notice after the shooting.


“It’s a sad day in Saugus,” L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at Thursday’s press conference.

Two months ago, six students at the school were detained on felony charges for allegedly making threats online, the Los Angeles Times reports. Authorities said those threats were not related to Thursday’s shooting.

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Students: Shooting Started in Outdoor Common Area

One student named Andrew told KABC he was in a classroom when “a loud bang happened,” leading 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,” Andrew said. “It was a big mess.”

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Another student, Lauren, told KABC she didn’t think the noises she was hearing were gunfire until there were three successive shots. She said the shooting started in an outdoor common area of the school, as most of the students were arriving for class.

Student Denzel Abesamis tells PEOPLE he was driving to school and making a left turn onto campus when he saw students running away.

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“I automatically knew something bad was happening,” the 16-year-old 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.”