January 11th, 2013
10:20 AM ET

California sheriff: Youth who shot classmate felt he'd been bullied

By Michael Martinez, CNN

(CNN) - A 16-year-old student who blasted a California high school classroom with a shotgun Thursday was targeting two classmates because he felt he'd been bullied, the local sheriff said Thursday night.

One student was hit and was in critical but stable condition Thursday night, and the shooter was in custody after a teacher and the school's campus supervisor talked him into putting his shotgun down.

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said he did not know whether bullying had actually occurred between the Taft Union High School students.

"But certainly he (the shooter) believed that the two people he had targeted had bullied him," Youngblood said at an evening news conference in Taft, about 30 miles from Bakersfield.

The young shooter was still being interrogated Thursday evening, Youngblood said, adding that the youth will be charged as a juvenile with attempted murder. It will be up to prosecutors to decide whether he should be charged as an adult, the sheriff said.

The name of the student in custody was not released.

My View: Balancing fear, hope after a school shooting

Youngblood laid out a detailed scenario of the hours before the shooting, saying the student planned the assault the night before, and took a shotgun belonging to his brother.

The student did not show up for school on time Thursday, Youngblood said, instead appearing about half through the first period of classes. He was caught on school surveillance cameras, the sheriff said, using a side entrance instead of the school's main door and "appearing nervous" as he tried to conceal the shotgun when he entered the school.

The gunman fired directly at one student, who was hit, then as students rushed to flee, the gunman fired again, Youngblood said.

"Miraculously, (the second shot) didn't injure anyone."

My View: Above all, teachers are in it for the kids

Youngblood credited the teacher and the campus supervisor - a campus monitor on the school's staff - with bravely facing off with the young gunman. Youngblood identified the teacher as Ryan Heber and the campus supervisor as Kim Lee Fields.

"They stood there face-to-face (with the gunman) not knowing whether he's going to turn that shotgun on them," Youngblood said.

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Filed under: Bullying • Guns in school • Issues • School violence • Teachers
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  1. Input Welcome

    Working Draft: Re: Letter to the President

    NOTE: Your constructive input is welcome.

    We, the people are deeply concerned about the following, which we request, as we the people, your immediate attention to if at all possible. The reason that we make this immediate request is due to the very real concern for the safety, well-being, and protection from harm of mental patients of all ages, religions, nationalities, gender, race, and ethnicity, etc., and disabilities in light of the recent tragedies that has placed a huge amount of blame on autistic persons, and mandates signed by you that could be construed to violate the rights of the mentally ill and their families.

    Historically, the mentally ill have been treated poorly in this country, much like those whom the revered civil rights leaders of our great country challenged all to provide equal opportunity, education, rights, judicial access and fairness of courts, legal systems, education, schools, jobs, housing, health care, etc.. Today, we are asking you to do the same for the mentally ill and their families, communities, and society as a whole (as all could be disabled from mental illness at some point in their lives – and historically – most are).

    While the power and politics of the system within which the responsibility for mental health practices, procedures, and policies encompasses many whom benefit and thrive, many of the patients and much of society are made to suffer the greatest of burdens and sorrow because of it.

    There are many reasons why so many suffer at the hands of the current mental health system, as you may well know. It is widely considered to be a system of care that is very deeply flawed by those whom are aware of the true realities of the way things really are in the mental health system, and/or the reasons and reasoning as to why the system is so flawed. To ask the patients to suffer through not only their illness, healing, recovery, and management of their illness at the same time that they must also suffer at the hands of this deeply flawed system places an inordinately undue and unhealthy burden and suffering on not only them, but on the whole of society as well.

    President Obama, the most obvious need that is not being considered in the last few weeks national affairs, in which you have so immediately made sweeping changes to the rights bestowed upon all of this great nation of independently minded souls, was one of the deep rooted anger that exists in the USA today, be it toward the mentally ill or gun rights issues or whatever. To single either one or whatever out for discrimination in signed action that will, in essence, limit the future and rights of every single citizen of this great nation, only serves to invite further victimization, discrimination and prejudice against all deemed to be or made to be in any group of similarly classified individuals. As outlined in the laws of this land, which you have sworn to uphold, and to which your pledge we honor as you do ours, as a united 'we the people' governed under a respected and trusted unifying law of the land, we humbly ask you to reconsider your recent actions under the same wisdom you value by your honor chosen mentors, and to whom, we thoughtfully agree to their mission of freedom and equality for all.

    The restrictions you have placed on the rights of the mentally ill are a closing of the door to the rights you honor with your pledge to defend, honor, and uphold for ALL citizens of the USA. We question the possibility now allowed that many might fall prey to those whom may wish to exploit and / or harm those with disabilities and related, or as ill guided control, or weapon of discrimination and prejudicial policies, practices, and procedures against any made to fall into this category of citizens or deemed to be in this category of citizen. This is now a great burden to all, and places many at further risk of harm, discrimination and prejudice, as you could well imagine given the need for revered leaders and movements throughout the ages.

    It is hard to imagine how banning guns can be such a problem, yet forcing the banning of guns on those at the mercy of a mental health system that is not prepared to deal fairly with such power to control, discriminate, and cause harm, exploitation, nor the loss of protected rights throughout the entire system of education, judicial, employment, military, health care, mental health care, security systems and officers, society as a whole and as individuals, families, communities, churches, non-profit groups, universities, the agencies set up to regulate all that can cause mental illness in our foods, water, medicine, practices, procedures, and policies, and ALL can be and ARE AT MERCY of this type illness and treatment without legal representation and supports, and a fair and equal judicial system, that this could truly be ok.

    Therefore, we the people, request humbly and with post haste to amend to these signed actions provisions that will allow for the furthering of reasoning throughout all levels of the greatest government system put in place by the people, for the people, and for which we are all pledged to honor and protect and defend as USA citizens of this great and wonderful land of which we know, that you, our chosen leader, will be able to see the wisdom of your forefathers and revered leaders and mentors as being the only true way for our nation to be for the people, by the people. Thank you and God Bless you in your leadership and wisdom as you guide this grand nation through four more years of being a nation built on the wisdom of many.

    Sincerely and with Deepest Respect,

    'We the People', USA
    January 20, 2013

    January 21, 2013 at 6:19 am |
  2. PrayerMama

    BOMB – I am concerned with your comment above.First off your name and secondly it seems that you may need to get some counseling because it appears there are things that you are dealing with or dealt with in the past that are still bothering you. This is why bullying has to be stopped because these things carry with people FOREVER!

    January 15, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
  3. Lynda Elaine

    From this article it is unknown if the kid was actually being bullied. Nowadays that term is used to describe everything somebody doesn't like. he looked at me wrong, I don't like her tone, she called me a name. None of this is bullying. But the media has made it such a sensitive issue for all of the wrong reasons, kids being kids and not robots, are resorting to an extreme form of violence because they THINK they were bullied. So let's go get a gun.

    We wouldn't want to just get over it or ignore it and move on. Oh No. That makes too much sense. Let's make a big deal out of what was probably nothing. Kid needs to be tried as an adult. He committed an pre planned adult act. Now he can pay the price.

    January 15, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
  4. Rick

    Teachers will punish both the bully and the victim because they're too lazy to investigate.

    January 14, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
  5. Naihgt Parker

    I think bullying is as bad as shooting bullies, and while this kid should 'do time' for shooting a gun in a school I think the bully (and all the other bullies who victimize weaker kids) should 'do some time' too.

    January 12, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
  6. Bomb

    The reason it comes to this is the teachers and faculty punish kids for standing up to bullies. When I was in school if a kid tried to bully you and you punched him he'd go tell on you and you'd get detention or suspension. You quickly learn you can't stand up for yourself or you'll get in trouble. Then you might go home and have your parents slap you around or beat you for getting in trouble. So you learn to take the bullying and bottle it all up inside. I could see someone who was bullied a lot, and knows it will just keep happen with seemingly no end in sight, just snap one day.

    January 11, 2013 at 10:47 am |