SANTA CLARITA (CBSLA) — School shootings have become such a way of life that parents, students and teachers were prepared when shots rang out Thursday at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita.
The shooting at Saugus High School left at least two students dead and at least two others hurt. All schools in the William S. Hart Unified School District were briefly put on lockdown, before the suspect – described as an Asian male – was taken into custody.
Like schools across the country, Saugus High School has put students and teachers through school lockdown drills. Student Mason Peters said his teacher didn’t hesitate when they heard the distinctive sound of gunshots.
“My teacher quickly sprang to his feet, got up, locked the door, asked the students to get the keys, and so we like reinforced it, turned off all the lights, and we got a bunch of desks and stuff, and then reinforced the doors, and we all just stayed hidden,” Mason said.
Department of Homeland Security guidelines say in the event of an active shooter situation, people should evacuate or hide out, and as a last resort, take action to try to take the shooter down.
One image seen immediately after every school shooting is the news helicopter shot of students walking single-file out of the school with their hands on their heads. Brian Skiba’s son was not among those students because they already had a plan in place.
“My son was in the quad where it started and the minute he heard shots, he ran and we have a meeting space, and he ran to our meeting space,” Skiba said.
For years, since the first major school shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, authorities have been advising parents to talk to their children and develop a plan in the event of any emergency.
But preparation and experience are two different things, so some students still panicked, and instead ran off the campus and into the surrounding neighborhood, seeking shelter at a nearby home.
“The drills that we do….it depends on the teacher and how they react. Some still sit there and do homework, some others are parents so they know its more serious, so they turn off the lights and like have you get down and hide,” one girl said. “It just depends on the teacher.
“It’s also just scary how unprepared I think all of us were,” another girl, the fear visible on her face even away from the campus, said. “Because they didn’t prepare us to be actually scared.”
“It was a lot of panic, ’cause when this sort of thing happens, because even though you’re prepared for it…you can’t really be prepared for it,” a student named Michael said after being reunited with his mother. “It doesn’t really feel, like, real and it hasn’t really set in with me that it happened.”
Michael’s mother said he continued to text her that he was OK, and she told him not to panic.
“He kept telling me, ‘I love you, I love you’ and that just kind of got me more emotional and worried because…a lot of things go through your mind,” she said.