A community vigil is scheduled Sunday evening in Santa Clarita for the victims of last week’s shooting at Saugus High School.
The 7 p.m. vigil in the city’s Central Park will also be streamed live on the Santa Clarita Valley Signal newspaper’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/signalscvat.
Meanwhile, officials with the William S. Hart Union High School District have announced that Saugus High School will remain closed until Dec. 2, although students will have limited access to the campus starting Tuesday for counseling and other services. All other district schools will reopen Monday.
In an email distributed Saturday and posted on the District website, Deputy Superintendent Mike Kuhlman said “We have decided to slowly open access to the campus and to provide optional supportive activities for students this coming week.
“Students choosing to come back to campus will be surrounded by law enforcement officers, mental health professionals, community members and friends offering love and encouragement. Family members are welcome to participate. Principal Vince Ferry will be reaching out to Saugus families with additional details soon.”
Counseling and an increased police presence will also be available at the District’s remaining 15 schools as normally scheduled classes resume.
“It’s with a heavy heart that we approach this task.” Kuhlman said. “We cannot lose sight of the fact that there are families in our community whose lives have been shattered by the events of this past week. Let us commit to caring for them — and for one another — as we take the first few steps toward healing and the resolution of positive daily routines for our children and loved ones.”
Thursday’s shooting took the lives of two innocent victims and the shooter.
Gracie Anne Muehlberger, 15, succumbed to her injuries at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital at nearly 9:30 a.m. Thursday almost two hours after the shooting. She had just celebrated her birthday Oct. 10. An authorized GoFundMe account for Muehlberger’s family has raised nearly $100,000.
“Our vivacious, funny, loyal, light of our lives, Cinderella, the daughter we always dreamed to have, fiercely strong and lover of all things fashionable — was our best friend,” Muehlberger’s parents wrote in a statement on a GoFundMe page established on behalf of the family. “She is going to be missed more than words will ever be able to express.
“We deeply appreciate the outpouring of love and support from family, friends, colleagues, our church and the whole Santa Clarita and national communities. We are grieving and navigating this pain moment by moment. … We will love you always Sweetpea!”
The second student killed during the shooting was identified as Dominic Blackwell, who turned 14 in September. A GoFundMe for his family, has raised nearly $80,000.
A friend and former youth football teammate of Blackwell posted a football team photo on Twitter and wrote, “Today a lil guy with a big heart lost his life in the Saugus shooting. He was always smiling making people laugh always positive. He was the sweetest kid ever and such a good kid. We need more people like you.”
One of two girls, ages 14 and 15, who had remained hospitalized following Thursday’s shooting, was released Saturday. Her family issued a statement about plans for the girl to continue her recovery at home, but did not include her name.
“We are deeply appreciative of the love and support we have received and thank our community for their caring as we grieve with our friends and family,” the statement said.
Doctors said the 14-year-old was shot in a shoulder and abdomen and was in stable condition and “doing well.” The 15-year-old girl had a single bullet wound that entered below her belly button and lodged in her left hip. Doctors performed surgery and were able to remove the bullet, officials said.
The 16-year-old shooter, Nathaniel Tennosuke Berhow, a junior at the high school, died at 3:32 p.m. Friday, according to the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department. Sheriff’s officials said his mother was with him when he died.
The shooting occurred shortly before 7:40 a.m. Thursday on the campus at 21900 Centurian Way in Santa Clarita when Berhow walked into the campus quad and shot five classmates, two of them fatally, then turned the gun on himself.
Authorities have said the shootings appeared planned, but the victims were random, and they remained stymied as to the motive.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva, and other investigators, said Friday there appeared to be no discernable link between the shooter and the victims, other than they were students at Saugus High School.
Berhow didn’t appear to have “any interaction with anyone” prior to the shooting. He was standing by himself, Villanueva said.
As of Friday, investigators had identified six firearms that were registered to the suspect’s late father, and all of those weapons have been accounted for — but the gun used by Berhow was not one of them, he said.
Villanueva said there were several firearms recovered from the house that “were not the ones registered to the father. Some of these firearms were not registered at all.’
“We’re going to have to go through and finish the investigation to account for all of the firearms and match them up with a source and the relationship with the weapon that we recovered at the scene.”
Paul Delacourt, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, said there was no early indication the suspect “was acting on behalf of any group or ideology.”
Officials also said there is no history of the teen being bullied, and Sheriff’s Capt. Kent Wegener said Friday that investigators have not found a manifesto, diary, suicide note or any other writings indicating a motive.
Villanueva noted that three off-duty law enforcement officers — one with the sheriff’s department and officers from Inglewood and Los Angeles — were the first people on scene because they have relatives who attend the school.
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