Teen suspected of killing two students in Santa Clarita school shooting was 'quiet, smart kid'

15 November 2019, 08:10

Students were led from Saugus High School on Thursday morning
Students were led from Saugus High School on Thursday morning. Picture: PA

By Megan White

A teenager suspected of killing two students in a Los Angeles school shooting has been described as a quiet, smart boy who people believed would never have turned violent.

The attacker shot five pupils at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California, on Thursday morning, his 16th birthday, according to authorities.

Two students died and the gunman was gravely wounded after shooting himself in the head.

One fellow pupil said the suspect was a Boy Scout who she relied on for help with history, and a student in his physics class said he seemed like "one of those normal kids".

A next-door neighbour who grew up with him said he kept to himself but was never threatening.

Tributes were laid outside the Santa Clarita school after the attack
Tributes were laid outside the Santa Clarita school after the attack. Picture: PA

Police said they had yet to determine a motive and any relationship between the gunman and the victims.

Authorities said they have no indication the boy was acting on behalf of any group or ideology.

Local reports determined his identity based on property records for his home, which police said was searched after the shooting, and interviews with three of his friends.

The suspect lived with his mother in a modest home on a leafy street in Santa Clarita, a Los Angeles suburb of about 210,000 people known for good schools, safe streets and relatively affordable housing.

His father died two years ago. Two years before that, the father had been arrested amid a domestic dispute with the boy's mother.

Officers searched a home in the wealthy suburb outside Los Angeles
Officers searched a home in the wealthy suburb outside Los Angeles. Picture: PA

"A quiet, to-himself kid," said Ryan McCracken, a 20-year-old next-door neighbour. "You wouldn't expect anything like that from him."

Authorities confirmed that a message, "Saugus, have fun at school tomorrow", was posted to the Instagram account believed to belong to the suspect before the shooting.

Brooke Risley, a fellow pupil at Saugus High, described the boy as somewhat introverted, though open with his close friends, and "naturally smart".

She said he was not bullied, had a girlfriend and had been an active member of the Boy Scouts.

Joe Fitzpatrick, a senior pupil who helped the teacher in the boy's physics class, called him a "good, quiet kid" who did not miss assignments and did well in tests.

"He just seemed like one of those regular kids," Mr Fitzpatrick said.