TAFT, CA (RNN) – One person was critically injured after a gunman opened fire at Taft Union High School on Thursday.
Kern County Sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt said a student had been shot and flown to a hospital in Bakersfield. Pruitt said a suspect, also believed to be a student, was in custody.
Kern Country Sheriff Donny Youngblood said during a press conference that the 16-year-old victim is listed in critical but stable condition.
Authorities cleared the school room by room of any other potential danger. The shooting was reported around 9 a.m. Thursday, and police had the suspect in custody about 20 minutes later. Youngblood said officials were on the scene within one minute of the initial reports.
Youngblood added that the suspect entered a classroom he usually attended halfway during the school's first period. The suspect shot the victim, then tried to shoot a second student, however he missed.
The teacher in the classroom then engaged the shooter in dialogue and tried to convince him to put down his weapon. The teacher and a campus "resource officer" eventually persuaded the suspect to relinquish his weapon and he was taken into police custody.
Officials praised the teacher and resource officer for their ability to speak with the suspect, adding that the incident could have ended much worse, as the suspect had up to 20 rounds of ammunition in his pocket.
"We know the students involved, the teacher, the campus supervisor are some really awesome people. They did a great job protecting the kids," said Taft Police Chief Ed Whiting. "We can't thank them enough for what they did today."
KGET reported two had been hurt. One received only minor injuries and refused treatment at the scene, while the other was airlifted to Kern Medical Center with unknown injuries, county fire officials said.
Meanwhile, KERO reported that the station received at least one phone call from a person hiding in a close inside the school.
The school, which serves the city and surrounding area, was founded in 1912. The California Department of Education reports the public school holds grades nine through 12 and has about 935 students and 64 faculty members.
An armed Taft Police Department officer is usually assigned to the school, however Youngblood said he was unable to report to the school today because he was "snowed in."
The school will not be holding class tomorrow.
Taft is located about 30 miles west southwest of Bakersfield and has a population around 7,000.
The shooting in Taft, CA comes less than a month after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, which left 28 people dead.
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