California high school gunman dies as police struggle to uncover motive


NEW YORK • The 16-year-old student who killed two of his classmates in Santa Clarita, California, has died from his self-inflicted gunshot wound, complicating investigators' efforts to understand why he pulled a handgun from his backpack and shot five other people.

Police said they know that his mother dropped him off at school on Thursday morning. They know there were six more weapons inside his house. What they do not know is why he did it.

"We did not find any manifesto, any diary that spelled it out, any suicide note or any writings which will clearly identify his motive behind this assault," Captain Kent Wegener of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said at a news conference on Friday before the gunman's death. He said that police had conducted more than 40 interviews, but that "no motive or rationale" had been uncovered.

The authorities identified the gunman as Nathaniel Berhow. Although he shot himself in the head, he initially survived and was transported to a hospital along with the other victims.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva of Los Angeles County said the gunman was silent as he shot the five students at Saugus High School. He seemed to have planned the attack, the sheriff said, and also seemed familiar with how to use the gun, quickly fixing a malfunction and firing all but one round before shooting himself in the head.

The shooting was captured on video, and the gunman appeared to have selected his victims at random. A 14-year-old girl, a 15-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy who were injured in the shooting were all in stable condition by Thursday night, the authorities said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 17, 2019, with the headline 'California high school gunman dies as police struggle to uncover motive'. Print Edition | Subscribe