Motive a mystery in fatal California school shooting | TribLIVE.com
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Motive a mystery in fatal California school shooting

Associated Press
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Parent Mirna Herrera kneels with her daughters Liliana, 15, and Alexandra, 16 at the Central Park memorial for the Saugus High School victims in Santa Clarita, Calif., Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Investigators said Friday they have yet to find a diary, manifesto or note that would explain why a boy killed two students outside his Southern California high school on his 16th birthday. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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Emily Boyle, a senior at Valencia High School brings flowers at a memorial near Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, Calif., Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. A homicide official says that investigators did not find a diary, manifesto or note belonging to the boy who killed two people outside his Southern California high school on his 16th birthday. Officials held a press conference Friday outside of the police station Santa Clarita. No motive or rationale has been established yet in the Thursday morning shooting at Saugus High School in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Clarita. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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A Los Angeles Sheriff Sheriff’s vehicle patrols the surroundings of the Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, Calif., Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Investigators said Friday they have yet to find a diary, manifesto or note that would explain why a boy killed two students outside the Southern California high school on his 16th birthday. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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Deputy James Callahan, at podium, takes questions from the media at a news conference at the station Santa Clarita, Calif., Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Callahan works as a school resource officer at Saugus High School, was on the scene in the aftermath of the shooting, (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean, far left, Los Angeles Sheriff Sheriff Alex Villanueva, left, Detective Daniel Finn, at podium, and Deputy James Callahan, far right, take questions from the media at a news conference at the station Santa Clarita, Calif., Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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Doctors at Providence Holy Cross Hospital in Mission Hills tell reporters they treated a 15-year-old girl and a 14-year-old girl after Thursday’s shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, during a news conference Friday, Nov. 15, 2019 in Los Angeles. The suspected gunman shot five students, seemingly at random, and then shot himself in the head and remains in critical condition Friday. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. — A 16-year-old boy planned the attack that killed two students and wounded three others at a Southern California high school, but investigators were so far unable to find out why he brought a gun to campus and opened fire, authorities said Friday.

After more than 40 interviews and evaluation of evidence, no motive had been established, said Capt. Kent Wegener, of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s homicide unit. He said no manifesto, diary or suicide note had been found.

“It still remains a mystery why,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva told a press conference.

The teenager opened fire on his birthday Thursday morning after being dropped off by his mother at Saugus High School in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Clarita.

Nathaniel Tennosuke Berhow fired the final bullet into his own head. He died at 3:32 p.m. Friday at a hospital with his mother present, according to a Sheriff’s Department statement.

The shooting in an outdoor plaza took just 16 seconds and was recorded on security video, authorities said.

The teen stood by himself, did not appear to interact with anyone and then walked to the center of the quad, Villanueva said.

“As far as we know the actual targets were at random,” the sheriff said.

The sheriff said the conclusion that the attack was planned was based on the shooter bringing the weapon, handling it with enough expertise and counting the rounds fired.

“It wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment act,” Villanueva said.

The origin of the gun was being investigated.

Three off-duty law enforcement officers were first on the scene and treated some of the wounded until paramedics arrived.

The dead were identified as 15-year-old Gracie Anne Muehlberger and 14-year-old Dominic Blackwell.

The names of the wounded students were not released.

Doctors said Friday morning that two girls, ages 14 and 15, who were both shot in the torso, were doing well and should be released from the hospital over the weekend. A 14-year-old boy was treated and released from another hospital, authorities said.

The suspect was described as a quiet and smart kid who was a Boy Scout and had previously run track for his school.

“You have the image of a loner, someone who is socially awkward, doesn’t get along, some violent tendencies, dark brooding and online strange postings — stuff like that,” Villanueva said. With this boy, investigators have found “nothing out of the ordinary. He’s a cookie cutter kid that you could find anywhere.”

In fact, the stereotype of the loser sociopath is often inaccurate, according to the psychologist who wrote federal guidelines for assessing school shooting threats and has interviewed 10 shooters.

What pushes most shooters is some kind of loss or disappointment, often recent, followed by the inability to cope with a feeling of being overwhelmed, according to Marisa Randazzo, a former chief research psychologist at the U.S. Secret Service.

“These are acts of suicide as much as homicide,” said Randazzo, who is now CEO of a firm that does threat assessments.

Most shooters she studied were academically successful and weren’t social outcasts.

Friends said while the boy could be introverted, he had a girlfriend and good social network focused on his cross-country teammates.

Randazzo said she expects investigators will learn that someone had an inkling of trouble.

Categories: News | World
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