California teacher ‘talks down’ shooter

Thanks to a heroic teacher who “talked down” a 16-year-old with a shotgun, nobody was killed at a rural California high school yesterday.  One Taft High School student was critically wounded, but is now in stable condition. Wounded in the forehead by a shotgun pellet, science teacher Ryan Heber talked to the shooter, letting 28 students flee the room. With help from a campus supervisor, Kim Lee Fields, who’d heard the shots fired, he got the boy to surrender to police. RyanHeber_1357858333303.jpg

About half of California’s high schools, 16 percent of its middle schools, and 5 percent of its elementary schools have police or resource officers on campus, and 83 percent of the officers at high schools are armed, according  an EdSource survey, reports the Christian Science Monitor.

Taft High’s armed resource officer wasn’t at school because he was snowed in. However, police reportedly were at the school within 60 seconds of a 911 call from a neighbor, who saw the boy enter a side door with the shotgun.

The Kern County Sheriff’s office is investigating reports the suspect threatened students last year, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Angela Hayden, whose 16-year-old daughter attends Taft, said the suspected shooter allegedly threatened to kill her daughter and other students last year while they were on a school bus during a field trip to Universal Studios.

“He was telling everyone that he had a list of people who messed with him over the years and that he was going to kill them,” Hayden told The Times.  She said the boy allegedly said his brother would be the first victim.

Hayden said her daughter complained about the incident to a vice principal and that the boy was expelled for several days. After the boy returned, Hayden said, she called the principal wanting to know why he was not permanently barred from campus. The principal declined to discuss the punishment, citing privacy concerns, according to Hayden.

“Everybody knew about this kid,” Hayden said.

The shooter used his older brother’s shotgun, Sheriff Donny Youngblood said. He had extra ammunition in his pocket.

In response to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the White House is now considering federal funding for schools that want to hire police officers and increase surveillance, California Sen. Barbara Boxer told NBC. The NRA, derided for proposing armed guards at schools, isn’t going to go along if it’s part of a bill also calling for a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips.

Colorado teacher tackles gunman

Just doing my job, says David Benke, a math teacher at Deer Creek Middle School in Littleton, Colorado.  Benke, 57,  tackled a man with a bolt-action rifle who’d wounded two students. The 6-foot-5 teacher tackled the gunman; another teacher, Norm Hanne, helped subdue him. Becky Brown, the assistant principal, grabbed the rifle.

Bruco Strong Eagle Eastwood, 32, an unemployed ranch hand, is charged with two counts of attempted murder. He was a former student at the school.

Eastwood has an arrest record in Colorado dating to 1996 for menacing, assault, domestic violence and driving under the influence, and he is believed to have a history of mental issues.

Deer Creek is just down the road from Columbine High, the site of the 1999 massacre.

Update:  Hailed as a hero, Benke is upset he didn’t get the gunmen before he shot an eighth grade boy who the teacher taught last year, reports the Denver Post.  The boy is expected to recover; the wounded girl was well enough to go home.

Sign of the times:

After being subdued, the shooter “said he was going to sue us,” Benke recalled.

Eastwood’s father said his son has been yelling at imaginary people and complaining that eating macaroni and cheese is too noisy.