The scorned student who allegedly opened fire with a 12-gauge shotgun in a California classroom on Thursday, critically wounding one classmate and aiming to shoot at least one more, has been identified by KGET as 16-year-old Bryan Oliver.
It’s the same name that’s been cited by numerous students on Twitter who expressed their anger at the suspect and their disbelief that school officials didn’t heed his telltale warning signs.
The nightmare unfolded at 9 a.m. at Taft Union High School in rural Taft, California, 120 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Here’s what we know about the suspect, his rampage, and the failure to prevent it.
1. He Was a Known Time Bomb, & There Were Rumors of a “Hit List”
Brian Oliver? Why didn’t they do anything before he wrote the hit list. My school should be at least more careful. #TAFT
— Tallllzz (@Chaaaally) January 10, 2013
Didn’t Brian Oliver make a hit list last year and only got suspended for only 5 days??
— Tiffanyy❤ (@Tiffanysueee) January 10, 2013
The Bryan Oliver kid threatened to shoot kids freshmen year last year had a hit list then this year checks out a book on how to be a murder
— Brandon J McCostlin✌ (@ShallowGrady) January 10, 2013
While authorities refused to answer reporters’ questions on the subject, local Twitter users made numerous references to a “hit list” that previously got the suspect in trouble. Many of the same Twitter users were incredulous that he was allowed to remain a student at the school.
What’s worse, students were tweeting last month about their specific fears he would shoot up the school.
2. He Had Intended Targets
Police say the shooter stormed into a science class around 9 a.m., wielding a shotgun, and plugged his first intended victim in the chest. He then “named” and tried to shoot another student — but missed. Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said there had been a “dialogue” between the shooter and the victim. Cops found multiple shells and believe two to four shots were fired.
Several Twitter users identified the wounded boy as Bowe Cleveland, whom friends describe as a huge Spider Man fan.
— Tallllzz (@Chaaaally) January 10, 2013
Doctors say Cleveland arrived in “very unstable” condition but is a “very lucky kid” who is making a recovery.
Bowe Cleveland is named in the same December 15 Twitter conversation (mentioned above) that warned of Oliver’s intentions:
In addition to the serious wounds to Cleveland, who was airlifted by helicopter to the hospital, a teacher suffered a minor pellet wound to the head, a female student suffered possible hearing damage from the shotgun blasts, and another female student was hurt falling over a desk while scrambling to safety.
3. He Had Lots of Ammo
The carnage could have been much worse. Police say the shooter had some 20 rounds of ammo in his pocket.
4. A Hero Teacher Saved the Day
A teacher named Ryan Heber, with the help of a “campus supervisor” named Kim Fields, talked down the crazed suspect and prevented a bloodbath. The conversation gave students time to escape while police arrived. Heber was reportedly wounded by a shotgun pellet that grazed his head.
Kim Fields and Mr. Heber talked the shooter out of his gameplan. No physical action took place.
— Hunter Liljeroos (@hunnermichaeltb) January 10, 2013
Sheriff Youngblood praised the heroism of Heber and Fields:
The heroics of these two people goes without saying — to stand there and face someone that has a shotgun who has already discharged it and shot a student, that speaks volumes for these two young men and what they may have prevented.
And Heber’s 70-year-old dad David told the Bakersfield Californian:
His students like him a whole bunch. He’s not the kind of teacher a student would try to hurt. He’s definitely someone who could talk a kid down in an emergency.
5. He Was Bullied
The suspect is described as a “short kid” — a “loner” often teased for his diminutive stature.
Taft High graduate Alex Patterson told the AP:
He comes off as the kind of kid who would do something like this. He talked about it a lot, but nobody thought he would.
Neighbor Trish Montes said the victim indeed teased the suspect:
Maybe people will learn not to bully people. I hate to be crappy about it, but that kid was bullying him.
6. He Lived Near the School
The suspect was marked as absent when he failed to arrive for school on Thursday, but he soon walked on campus and entered his own first-period science class — where he opened fire.
7. Cops Arrived in 60 Seconds
A witness saw the boy walking with a gun and called 911. Cops say first responders arrived within 60 seconds, but the shooting was already under way. Authorities then responded in force with SWAT teams and searched the school, room-to-room, as students were kept on lockdown and then released to their parents. A local TV station reported students called the station from their cell phones while cowering in the school.
8. The School Has an Armed Guard
In the wake of Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Massacre, many — including the NRA — have suggested the answer is more armed guards at schools. According to the school’s security policy, it keeps a full-time armed, uniformed sheriff’s deputy plus two unarmed campus supervisors on duty before, during and after school.
9. The School Was Practicing Emergency Protocol on the Same Day
Taft High was scheduled to perform emergency drills that same morning — practicing for a crisis even as a real one was unfolding. Student Oscar Nuno told the AP:
Just 10 minutes before it happened our teachers were giving us protocol because of what happened in Connecticut.
10. The Shooting Interrupted News Reports of Biden’s Meeting with the NRA
In an insane example of the prevalence of gun-violence as the hot topic in America, the breaking news of the Taft High shooting cut into coverage of Vice President Joe Biden’s gun-control meeting with the NRA.