Report: Yet another shooting at a US high school, this one in Kern County, CA

Google Street View of Taft Union High School, Taft, CA

Local news outlets in Southern California are reporting that two victims have been shot in a school shooting at Taft Union High School. Bakersfield Now reports that the incident took place on the second floor of the school's science building. No fatalities are reported. One shooting victim is in critical condition at a local hospital; the other "refused medical treatment." The injured victim and the shooter, according to early reports, are both students.

Taft is a small town (about 9,000 residents) in largely agricultural and oil-producing Kern County, CA.

KABC-TV reports at least two victims shot; shooter in police custody; students are being evacuated.

From KERO-Bakersfield:
23ABC news received phone calls from people inside the school who were hiding in closets.

Kern County Sheriff's Department officials are going room-by-room to secure the school.

Reports indicate that the first person shot was airlifted to an area hospital and the second person denied medical treatment.

Parents need to pickup their students at the football field.

The incident is said to have occurred around 9am, with multiple ambulances and emergency medical crews dispatched.

A spokesman for the sheriff's department says it is believed a shotgun was used in the attack.

An internal document on the high school's website states:

Taft Union High School is a safe and secure campus. The open-campus is surrounded by an exterior fence, which is locked at all times except during lunch when students are allowed to leave campus for lunch break. In addition, a digital IP video surveillance system consisting of 43 security cameras have been installed in common areas, such as the cafeteria, hallways, and at entryways to several structures on the grounds in an effort to monitor campus activity. An alarm system is activated in the evenings each day and on weekends. In addition, a campus security guard monitors the school grounds. TUHS employs two full-time campus supervisors who work in conjunction with our school administrators to ensure the safety of all students and staff. Furthermore, TUHS contracts with the Kern County Sheriff’s Department to employ a full-time school resource officer to deal with truancies and disciplinary issues that are beyond the scope of our administration.
And in a related internal document:
Two campus supervisors and a Kern County Sheriff monitor the campus before, during, and after school. All visitors must register in the principal’s office. In 2007, TUHS installed a Digital IP Video Surveillance System consisting of 43 video surveillance cameras...

The California Department of Education website shows the public school serves students in grades 9 through 12, and currently has 935 students and 64 faculty members.

As news of the shooting first spread, Vice President Joe Biden was delivering a press conference on gun control and gun violence in America. Biden announced that he plans to send recommendations on gun control to President Obama by Tuesday, reports AP.

Greg Mitchell is maintaining a liveblog on the Taft story here, and KPCC radio in Los Angeles has one here.

(HT: @TheMatthewKeys)


    1. 30 years ago, the NRA chose to define American gun culture in terms of Bircher paranoia and machismo, and they’ve been riding the same crazy train to this date. At this point they’re about as credible as the school-shooting troofers who’ve popped up with their false-flag theories and their “photographic evidence” of one of the Newtown victims sitting on Obama’s lap (spoiler: it was the victim’s sister).

  1. This must be another one of those “rare” events that the guy in the other gun related thread was talking about a couple days ago….

    1. ‘Rare’ as in ‘Millions of American schoolchildren were not shot in school today’. What’s all the fuss about?

  2. For those of you keeping track, the clock has been reset. It is once again too soon to talk about gun control.

  3. If only every child was armed with an assault riffle in that school, this shooting would have been prevented.

  4. Ten days into the new year and here we go again.

    How many more of these does America need before it is understood that less guns means less people being shot? There isn’t a single country in which the strengthening of gun control laws led to an increase in gun murders.

    What an easily preventable waste of life.

    Fun fact: In the UK, every year more people die by falling off a chair than are killed by being shot.

    1. 697 in less than a month and somehow guns aren’t the problem.  There will be several other gun deaths today alone.  I’m sure I’ll find one when I turn on the local news tonight.  It’s the Detroit feed, after all.

  5. Luckily California has very restrictive gun laws… who knows how bad this might have been if the kid had a machinegun, flame thrower, or even a nuclear device.

    Feinstein has been doing her best to protect the children… and yet this still happens.

  6. If any of you pro-gun control folks really cared about lowering gun deaths you’d talk first, foremost and always about ending the drug war. School shootings are a rare occurrence compared to drug-related shootings.

    But for some reason, only the deaths of angelic-looking white children truly stir your emotions. Telling. Pardon me for not signing up for your sudden crusade.

    1. School shootings are a rare occurrence compared to drug-related shootings.

      False choices and apples and oranges. Make sensible gun policy, end the drug wars, and build up the impoverished neighborhoods where gun violence is most prevalent.

      Wow, your argument was really easy to sink…

      All the more funny considering that Boing Boing commenters across the spectrum (from right wing libertarians to hard lefties) seem to all be pretty much against the drug war in general.

          1. Actually he does, you make a false choice or a false equivalence or any truly obvious logical failing in your argument then you have failed to make an argument.

            No logical rebuttal need follow a flawed argument

          2. Make a real argument that’s not full of logical fallacies and straw men. The problem is that you don’t seem to have a legit argument.

            “Drug war!” (most of us are soundly against the drug war).

            “Stop talking about this and talk about the drug war!” (false choice)

            Never mind the fantasy straw man you’re building about people in favor of some form of gun control.

        1.  Wow, way to be completely wrong there! Does the nra give you a penny every time you post something that stupid, or are you a freelance loon?

          “Our gun policies are perfectly sensible.”

      1. Except most of the “sensible” gun control policies aren’t.  Magically making all “assault rifles” and “high capacity magazines” disappear would have less of an effect on the fatality rate compared with wiping out every deer in the US (200 fatalities/year or so).  

        More people are beaten to death with hands and feet than are killed with all rifles in the US.  In fact, hands and feet is roughly equal to rifles AND shotguns.  Making EVERY knife vanish would have a bigger effect than making EVERY rifle and shotgun vanish:

        The problem is criminals with handguns.  Focusing on anything OTHER than forcing all sales to go through background checks (CA does this already) is worse than useless: it doesn’t provide a significant benefit but is a huge distraction.  This wouldn’t stop criminals from getting guns but it makes it easy to prosecute those who sell the guns to criminals.

        1. So are you suggesting we ban handgun sales and keep assault weapons legal?


          There’s a lot of momentum in the gun control debate. I agree assault weapons are not the majority of the problem, but they should be the easiest part to fix, and help build momentum for discussing the rest.

      2. There’s nothing false about comparing two aspects of gun violence in the US, these being, here, crime- and poverty-related shootings with more spectacular and isolated incidents like school shootings. And there’s nothing “easy” about the issues these comparisons raise, chief among them being why the outliers (school shootings) get so much light and heat, while the steadier drip-drip-drip of crime- and poverty-related gun deaths get nary a peep. 

        Just as the roots of gun violence in America are deep, so are the causes of poverty and its associated violence. It will take more than “build[ing] up the impoverished neighborhoods.” I think SedanChair’s flamebaiting a bit with his white angels, but it’s undeniable that the same intractable issues that cause poverty in our inner cities help keep the gun deaths of inner-city populations out of the headlines. 

        1. He wasn’t comparing them, he was saying we should stfu about gun control because the drug war exists, and that we obviously don’t “care” about it. He was (very transparently) using that angle to try to shut down a new discussion on gun control brought about by yet another school shooting. Basically: “If you really cared about people you’d shut up about this and talk about legalizing drugs”.

          It will take more than “build[ing] up the impoverished neighborhoods.”

          That’s a given. I don’t think I have the time to line out a 300 page manifesto on all my ideas for dealing with poverty and violence……..

        1. I’ve lots of gun owning friends and family, but none of them feel the need for a Bushmaster or militarized/police style rifles and handguns. There can be varying degrees of gun ownership and allowances.

          You honestly think that your average Syrian owned military weapons, or that the U.S. is like Syria?  That’s not how the rebels got armed, it’s not how Libyans got armed…

  7. Merica!
    Seriously though, we in the UK find your dichotomy of intelligence and downright painful stupidity really entertaining when there aren’t dead children involved.
    If you own a gun it means you judge yourself both ready and capable of taking another human life.  It’s ethically indefensable.

    1. “If you own a gun it means you judge yourself both ready and capable of taking another human life.  It’s ethically indefensable.” Despite having no interest in owning a gun and believing in more gun control, I can’t agree. I live in Alaska and have many well-grounded, well-educated, politically progressive friends (yes, there are a few of us up here!) who own guns not because they believe strongly in the right to armed insurrection or for protection from others with guns but for hunting or for protection from wildlife. True, guns are inherently designed to destroy life, but not all guns are made to destroy human life. I think we need a bit more gun control but a lot more culture shifting.

      1.  Just out of curiosity, MollyMaguire, what part of Alaska?  And how do you feel about Alaska’s open carry gun policy?  And does it make you feel more safe or less safe?  Just wondering :)

        1. I now live in Anchorage but spent a few years in Fairbanks (~14 yrs total). I have probably seen firearms being carried openly in urban settings, but I can’t be certain. At least In my daily routines and social circles, it’s not prevalent at all. I have honestly never thought about it before, but since you ask, I think I actually feel less safe.

      2.  Good point, but I don’t think any of us are really scared of sportsmen as much as people with extremist views, or mentally unstable people that can easily purchase or stockpile militarized style weapons.

    1. It’s a precaution — the perpetrators seem to have a propensity for setting booby traps and bombs, sometimes there’s more than one perp, etc. Also, once the lockdown is over the rest of the school day is a write-off, so the students might as well go back to their parents in as quick and orderly a way as possible.

  8. The NY Times published an article yesterday with some relevant statistics: the US is at the bottom in its class for life expectancy for those under 50 years old.  The top three reasons?  Car accidents, gun violence and drug overdoses.

    The U.S. Health Disadvantage

  9. Is it wrong that one of my first reactions is to wonder which minority will get the blame, demonization, dehumanization, calls for institutionalization/imprisonment, etc.? Oh, and the posting system’s buggy again.

    1. It’s a natural reaction. After all, the first response of organisations like the NRA is always to find some “Other” to demonise in order to divert attention from the industry they lobby for.

  10. I can understand why someone in a rural area would keep a shotgun at home. However, there is absolutely no excuse for keeping a shotgun and its shells (or any other firearm and ammo) unsecured/unlocked in a household where anyone under the age of 18 resides.

    This is why mandatory firearm owners’ liability insurance needs to be part of whatever legislation is put forward by the Obama administration — at the very least. There need to be effective disincentives to the sort of irresponsible storage of firearms we’ve seen after these school shootings.

    Obviously there are other issues that need to be addressed regarding semi-automatic rifles, high-capacity magazines, certain types of ammunition, and gun sales in general. And obviously no measure will completely eliminate these situations. I state these things because, obviously, these threads tend to require my stating the obvious.

  11. What a terrible state of affairs to get in. Such a wealthy country, such awful healthcare and culture, constantly under performing compared to the other developed countries.

    Get well soon US.

  12. Has anyone noticed that a lot of the comments here (and even, arguably, the “Yet another” and “this one” portion of the headline at the top of the page) show a depressingly high degree of schadenfreude (directed at but not limited to the NRA and anyone who isn’t anti-gun) over this event?

    1. I don’t see much schadenfreude. I do see people trying to pre-empt the no-value-added propaganda of the NRA and the kind of suckers who do free scut work for them (apparently there are paid shills out there, too).

      Opinions of the school-shooting troofers aside, reasonable people don’t see the shootings of young people as an ideal opportunity to score political points just for the heck of it. They do see these incidents (including this one) as symptoms of a broken system, and would like to see the system mended.

  13. Why hire a police officer to act as a glorified truancy officer?  The description they give of the SRO’s job is something that should fall under a Vice Principal’s job.  

  14. Since BB is fond of highlighting how people are terrible at risk assessment, I thought I’d post some FBI crime stats to give some perspective:

    US gun homicides, 1991: 17,986.  Rate: 7.13 / 100,000
    US gun homicides, 2011: 8,583.  Rate: 2.94 / 100,000.

    1. The year after we went to war and haven’t stopped recruiting since.

      Things always get quieter at home when the armed forces are actively recruiting.

      But derp, lets say it is more guns and not what it has always been, war and sociological advances/setbacks, affecting crime rates.

      EDIT – Oh I’m sorry I thought you were being nonsensical, by attributing a major sociological statistical trend to one factor, like many silly people are lately.

      Most mentions of falling crime/murder/firearm/assault/hate/rape/death rates have of late been attributed solely to the fact of more guns on the streets.

      It’s like attributing the Mississippi River to the Red Rivers contribution. Willful blindness.

      If you weren’t among those I apologize for being nonsensical in reply.

      1. Your response makes no sense, and is not backed by data.

        I can’t find specific data regarding firearms murders, but overall murder rates don’t seem to show any correlation to whether or not there’s a war on.  Murders rose throughout the Vietnam War, for example.  

        Overall murders stayed pretty steady for several years after 9/11, actually rising a bit in the mid-2000s, and only declining significantly after 2007.  

        Here’s murder rates from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, for 1900-2006:

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