Two students have been shot dead and several injured after a teen gunman opened fire at a high school in California.
Police rushed to Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, roughly 50km north of Los Angeles, at about 7.30am on Thursday morning after reports a gunman was on campus.
The shooter, understood to be a 16-year-old student at the school, is “gravely ill” in hospital after shooting himself in the head, law enforcement sources told NBC Los Angeles.
He is not expected to recover and is brain dead, sources said.
Authorities said Thursday was his birthday.
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station initially indicated the suspect was in custody and being treated at a local hospital.
Authorities said five people had been transported to hospital, two who were in a critical condition.
At a press conference police said the students killed were a 14-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl.
The surviving victims are a 14-year-old girl, a 15-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters the shooting was devastating tragedy for the small community.
"I hate to have Saugus be added to the names of Columbine, Parkland, Sandy Hook, but it's a reality that affects us all throughout the nation,” he said.
“It’s one of my worst nightmares as a sheriff.”
He said it was too early to suggest a motive for the shooting.
Witnesses described seeing students running from the school screaming.
‘This is it. I’m gonna die’
Student Sharon Orelana Cordova said she hid under a table before witnessing the horrific aftermath.
"When I got out, I saw this person lying on the ground with blood all over," she told NBC Los Angeles.
Shauna Orandi, 16, said she was in her Spanish class doing homework when she heard four gunshots that she initially mistook as instruments from a band class.
She said a student burst into the room saying he’d seen the gunman, and her classmates were stunned into silence.
“My worst nightmare actually came true,” she said later as she left a nearby park with her father. “This is it. I’m gonna die.”
Authorities evacuated hundreds of students from the campus as anxious parents waited nearby.
Detectives reviewed footage of the suspect who was seen pulling a gun from his backpack in the quad area of the school. The weapon, a semiautomatic pistol, was later recovered with no bullets left.
It is the latest in a long line of school shootings in the US and comes 18 months after a student killed 10 people at a school in Santa Fe, Texas.
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