Report: Calif. School Shooter Had Hit List

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 11 2013 10:59 AM

California School Shooter Allegedly Had a Hit List of People Who Bullied Him

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Screengrab from http://www.taft.k12.ca.us/

When the 16-year-old student walked into his first-period science class late on Thursday he was carrying a shotgun and apparently knew exactly who he was targeting when he opened fire at Taft Union High School. Officials in the small Kern County community, around 120 miles northwest of Los Angeles, are investigating reports that the boy had a hit list of students he felt had bullied him that he had compiled last year, reports the Bakersfield Californian. “He had intended targets. There's no question,” Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said.

Rebecca Jackson, a 17-year-old senior tells the paper the shooter was anti-social and constantly afraid of ridicule. Few people would talk to him because he said "really weird, random crap." That seems to be why no one took him seriously when he had hinted at his plans the day before the shooting.

“He had told me yesterday, some more of that crap. He was joking that he was like gonna kill (the victim) and I thought that it was just a joke because he usually jokes around like that, like telling people that he's gonna kill them, or skin them alive or something, or eat their puppies,” Jackson said. “So I really didn't take that seriously, and he was going around all day telling people that, you know, he was, he might not be there tomorrow and not to worry about it, he might not be around for a little while. No one actually thought that he would do this.”
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After critically injuring a classmate, who was apparently a football player, the science teacher, Ryan Heber, managed to talk the student into giving up the shotgun. "I don't want to shoot you," he told the well-liked teacher, who managed to provide enough of a distraction to allow 28 students to escape the classroom, reports the Associated Press. The suspect is in custody. The injured boy is in critical, but stable, condition and is expected to survive.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.