Police in Taft, California say that the 16-year-old boy who opened fire in his high school on Thursday morning was aiming for specific classmates. The student, whose name hasn't been released, “believed the two people he targeted had bullied him, in his mind," said Sheriff Donny Youngblood. Neighbors described him as a "smart kid" who was teased for being small. Angela Hayden, whose daughter is in the boy's class, told the L.A. Times that he was suspended for several days last year after "telling everyone that he had a list of people who messed with him over the years and that he was going to kill them."
The boy shot one classmate with a 12-gauge shotgun and fired at another, but a hero teacher is being credited with preventing a bigger tragedy. Science teacher Ryan Heber talked the shooter into putting down the gun, giving his students time to flee, as the schools' counselor arrived at the scene. "They could have just as easily ... tried to get out of the classroom and left students, and they didn't," said Youngblood. "They knew not to let him leave the classroom with that shotgun." The student had another twenty rounds in his pockets and told Heber, “I don’t want to shoot you." A few people suffered minor injuries and the boy who was shot is in critical but stable condition. “He has a ways to go, more operations,” said his surgeon. “But I think he’s going to be able to recover.”