How many times can we say #NeverAgain?
Santa Clarita, CA, November 14, 2019 – This morning, Saugus High School students were sent to go hide—or run—after gunshots rang out on campus. The Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy were killed and three other students were wounded and hospitalized.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office received a call at 7:38 a.m. Thursday, arrived minutes later at Saugus to find six students with gunshot wounds—including the shooter*. As it stands, reports about the number of injuries and deaths continue to fluctuate between 5 to 6 and 2 to 3, respectively.
Footage from a school security camera, which is now circulating on social media, shows the shooter pulling what seems to be a 0.45 caliber handgun out of his backpack and shooting the students before putting the gun to his own head. The shooting lasted 16 seconds, according to Sheriff’s Capt. Kent Wegener.
Last year on March 24, 2018, Saugus students—otherwise known as Centurions, named after their mascot—joined students across the country in the March for Our Lives. Now, a year-and-a-half later, the community in Santa Clarita is figuring out just how to process and move forward.
On a call with us, Cassidy Bensko, a student organizer in the area, mentions how her friends have started talking about organizing marches and rallies. Andrei Mojica, the Saugus Associated Student Body President, has been spending the day making sure everyone in his community is doing okay and planning wellness events.
Mojica, among other students, is growing tired of waiting: “We should focus on mental health issues and stricter gun control laws and how to prevent any other school from becoming yet another statistic.”
Other students in the area have been involved with gun violence prevention since before today’s shooting, but are now even more passionate about the cause.
“The Santa Clarita shooting is an unwelcome reminder that we still have work to do to solve America’s epidemic of senseless gun violence. The students of Saugus HS aren’t strangers; they live in our district, they are our family and friends. Too many have died. We must act. Inaction is killing us. One week ago we were mourning those we lost in Borderline and now we’re facing a whole other shooting in our community,” said Daniel McGreevy, the March For Our Lives Ventura County Policy Director.
Families are mourning, time is ticking, and the news cycle is moving forward, but in this moment of tragedy, the community members of Santa Clarita are finding ways to be there for each other.
“Right now our community is mourning and still trying to fathom what just happened. School districts cancelled school for tomorrow. And we are overall just trying to come together; I know a couple of churches are having special masses for the victims of Saugus High tonight. And I think some counseling is being offered too, as well as a GoFundMe for victims’ families,” said Julianna Lozada.
Lozada, who does not attend Saugus High School but attends another school in the district, says that she’s not surprised by shooting—shootings have simply become so prominent these days. The fact that students are no longer surprised when they are directly affected by gun violence should be concerning.
Gun violence affects us all on a pervasive level every day, and while it would be very easy for us to state all the statistics right here, this statement is a space for Santa Clarita to say what it has to say.
We asked Mojica what he wants the world to know about Saugus High School, and it’s what we’ll leave you with: “When I ran for ASB President at Saugus 7 months ago, it was because I love the student body. Saugus Centurions are the strongest, most dedicated, most loving people I’ve ever had the blessing of representing. Yes, today was a tragedy. But tomorrow we will rebuild, we will recover, and we will be okay. I love our school and I hope that the media remembers us for our compassion and and devoted student body, not the chaos that was created today.”
Saugus High School and the surrounding Santa Clarita community will be holding a vigil on Sunday, Nov. 17, from 7 to 10 p.m. PST at Central Park.
To donate to the Saugus High School GoFundMe, click here.
*Out of respect for the victims and to avoid the shooter garnering unnecessary traction, March For Our Lives California will not be publishing any details about the shooter.*
This statement reflects the views of the March For Our Lives California State Board. This statement was written by Ry X.