In a moving act of courage that probably saved lives, Ryan Heber, along with another Taft Union High School employee, are credited with disarming the young gunman who opened fire in a classroom yesterday morning. Heber, a science teacher, was identified by his father to the Bakersfield Californian.
Here’s what we know so far from the Kern County Sheriff’s news conference: A young man armed with a shotgun entered a classroom filled with 28 students. He fired, hitting his first intended target, a 16-year-old student who is in critical condition but expected to survive. He fired again, missing his second target. During the gunfire, Heber’s head was grazed with a shotgun pellet.
Even though he had been injured, Heber intervened, trying to talk the gunman down while also starting the evacuation of students through the back door of the classroom. Another individual, identified only as a “campus supervisor,” was also involved in talking the gunman down.
The gunman reportedly told the teacher: “‘I don’t want to shoot you,’” and named the person that he wanted to shoot,” Sheriff Donnie Youngblood said. The gunman had as many as 20 rounds of ammunition in his pocket, Youngblood said.
Here’s a video of the Sheriff’s statement (article continues after video):
The heroics of these two people, it goes without saying, to stand there and face someone who has a shotgun, who has already discharged and shot a student, it speaks volumes for these two young men and what they may have prevented. They could have just as easily tried to get out of the classroom and left students and they didn’t. They knew not to let [the gunman] leave that classroom with that shotgun, and they took that responsibility on very serious, and we’re very proud of the job they did.
In addition to the student who is in critical condition, another student is being treated for possible hearing damage after the shotgun fired close to her ears, reported WSMV.com. Another student fell down while escaping the room and sustained minor ankle injuries.
The local NBC affiliate apparently interviewed students; one anonymous student, who said he shared a woodworking class with the shooter, reported that the gunman drew violent pictures of stick figures shooting each other.
Heber and the campus supervisor were not armed, according to Youngblood. A school security officer is usually assigned to Taft Union High School, but weather conditions might have prevented the officer from arriving at the campus Thursday, said the sheriff.
The alleged gunman, whose name will not be released because he is a juvenile, will be charged with attempted murder, reports WSMV.com. Whether he will be tried as a juvenile or adult will be decided by the state’s attorney general.