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Mourners remember teenagers who died at Saugus High School in California

By
Nicholas Sakelaris
Residents and students gather around a makeshift memorial to pay their respects to two teenagers who died in a school shooting Thursday at Saugus High School. The vigil was held at Central Park in Santa Clarita, Calif. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Residents and students gather around a makeshift memorial to pay their respects to two teenagers who died in a school shooting Thursday at Saugus High School. The vigil was held at Central Park in Santa Clarita, Calif. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Thousands of people mourned Sunday night at a vigil for the teenagers who died in a school shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, Calif.

Gracie Muehlberger, 15, and Dominic Blackwell, 14, were killed Thursday when a gunman, identified by police as Nathaniel Tennosuke Berhow, opened fire at the high school before school started. Three other students were injured in the mass shooting and are expected to survive.

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Central Park in Santa Clarita has become the gathering place for well-wishers and was the site of Sunday's vigil.

Dominic was remembered for his smile and sense of humor. He was a cadet in the Reserve Officer Training Corps at the school.

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Gracie's best friend, Addison, was wounded in the shooting but is recovering at home. She had a recorded message for the crowd.

"To my friends and family and my Saugus Strong community, I really appreciate all the love and support," she said. "I'm so thankful for each and every one of you."

Gracie's bother also spoke at the vigil.

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"My favorite thing about you Gracie was how funny you were," Riley Muehlberger said. "You were always able to put a smile on my face and that's one of the many things I'll miss the most."

Officials say Berhow, who had just turned 16, walked into the school with a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun in his backpack and fired six shots apparently at random. He also shot himself and later died in the hospital.

It's been described as a planned, deliberate attack but police have not released a motive.

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Surveillance video shows Berhow had experience with guns and when the gun jammed he quickly fixed it and kept firing.

"From the time that he withdrew the handgun from his backpack to the time that he was on the ground with a gunshot wound to his head was about 16 seconds," said Capt. Kent Wegener of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Two of the girls who were injured know each other and "held their composure despite being shot," trauma surgeon Dr. Bois Borazjani said.

The tragedy hit the whole area hard.

"I have many friends at Saugus High School," said Savannah Herrera, a Valencia High School student. "We need to stop this because it has a huge impact. We can't be losing lives."

Saugus High School will remain closed until Dec. 2. Other schools in the district will re-open Monday.

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