Last Thursday a 16-year-old student opened fire at a local high school in Santa Clarita, killing two before succumbing to injuries. A week later, Saugus High School and the surrounding community is still reeling.
Gunshots rang out around 7:30 a.m. on the morning of the shooting, while students were on their way to campus. Those who were present scampered away from the quad to hide.
“We barricaded [the room] and stood still waiting for what felt like hours,” Saugus student Paola Velazquez said.
Families reunited at Central Park in Santa Clarita. To get there, students had to maneuver through multiple spaces to reach safety, according to Velazquez.
“We were sent to the gym,” Velazquez said. “Then we were escorted to a church nearby, and then we were escorted to a bus that brought us to Central Park.”
Velazquez described getting a hold of her friends to be overwhelming since they were not allowed to make phone calls.
“I couldn’t even process anything,” Velazquez said.
During a press conference Thursday afternoon at Central Park, Police Captain Robert Lewis urged the community to check in with family members.
“The main thing we need to do is wrap our arms around each other,” Lewis said. “Make sure we keep in contact with our kids and with our families, so we know what our family members are going through.”
The Santa Clarita Activities Center was open from 5 p.m. to7 p.m. that Thursday night, providing grief counselors and mental health professionals to the community to begin the process of healing.
The community is still in mourning after the tragedy that took place last week.
The William S. Hart Union High School District officials have made it clear that healing is a priority for their community's well being. During a Wednesday night meeting open to the public, School Board President Bob Jensen addressed the Santa Clarita community and the next steps for the school board.
“As we continue to process what has occurred and contemplate the harsh reality that the existence of unexplainable pain can provoke harm, even death, our focus is now healing,” Jensen said at the meeting. Shortly after his speech, Jensen led the audience in a moment of silence.
Board Member Joe Messine praised the community for its strength during this time.
“The way the community has come together in support of the schools, the staff, other and our first responders is just phenomenal,” said Messina.
Board member Cherise Moore had kind words to say on behalf of the city of Santa Clarita.
“I’ve learned the tragedy won’t break us,” said Moore. “It’s ok to cry, it’s ok to hurt, because that’s a part of healing.”