SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (CN) – The 16-year-old boy who shot and killed two fellow students and wounded three others before turning the gun on himself Thursday morning has died, authorities in Los Angeles County said Friday evening.
Nathaniel Tennosuke Berhow planned and carried out the attack at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita on his birthday, but LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said investigators have not been able to find a motive.
“The big question is why,” said Villanueva.
Homicide Capt. Kent Wegener said investigators have not found a manifesto, diary or clear explanation to the shooter’s motive.
On Thursday morning, Berhow was dropped off at the high school some 40 miles northwest of the city of Los Angeles. He had a loaded .45 semiautomatic handgun in his backpack. He did not say anything when he walked into his school’s quad, dropped the backpack and pulled out the gun, said Villanueva.
According to surveillance footage, Berhow appeared to be counting his rounds as fired at his classmates. He did not move from his position or chase anyone down. Then he shot himself in the head, said Villanueva.
“Based on the totality of the circumstances, the way he was firing his weapon, he was counting his rounds, it appeared he knew exactly what he had. Bringing that weapon on campus to begin with, it wasn’t a spur of the moment act,” said Villanueva. “As far as we know, the actual targets were at random.”
Investigators said the entire incident took about 16 seconds from when the first shot was fired.
Federal agents found six guns registered to Berhow’s late father at his home as well as others that were not registered. Investigators are still trying to determine the origin of the gun used in the shooting.
Three off-duty officers were the first to respond to the scene, including LA County Sheriff’s deputy detective Dan Finn who was dropping off his girlfriend’s son at school. As he was driving away, he saw several hundred students running off campus.
“I asked a student and he said there were gunshots on campus,” said Finn. He and off-duty officers from Los Angeles and Inglewood police departments provided first aid to the victims.
Villanueva identified one of the dead students as 15-year-old Gracie Muehlberger; a 14-year-old boy who died was identified as Dominic Blackwell. One boy was released from the hospital after being treated and two other girls are expected to be released from the hospital over the weekend.
Meanwhile, an Instagram post that alluded to the shooting was determined to be a hoax account and not linked to Berhow, according to sheriff’s officials. The account is believed to have been created outside the United States and has since been suspended by the social media service.