A teacher at the California high school where a student shot and wounded two people is being hailed as a hero after he talked the shooter into laying down his weapon.
ACB 23 reports that the teacher, Ryan Heber, was one of two victims of a 16-year-old student identified by KGET as Bryan Oliver. Oliver walked into his first period science class at Taft Union High School in Taft carrying a 12-gauge shotgun and allegedly shot another student, Bowe Cleveland, in the chest. Oliver then allegedly fired at another student who was reportedly on a 'hit list.' Oliver missed his intended target but pellets from the shotgun round struck Heber in his head. Despite this, Heber talked Oliver into laying down his weapon. According to the Bakersfield Californian, Oliver told Heber that he did not want to shoot him. Oliver was arrested shortly thereafter.
"His students like him a whole bunch," David Heber, the teacher's father, told the Californian. "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."
Heber, along with campus supervisor Kim Fields, who helped him talk Oliver into laying down his gun, is being hailed as a hero.
"The actions that he took saved lives and protected many," Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said of the teacher.
"The heroics of these men goes without saying," Sheriff Donny Youngblood told KGET. "To stand there and face someone with a shotgun who has already discharged and shot a student, speaks volumes for these two young men and what they may have prevented."
Taft police, California Highway Patrol and FBI personnel all rushed to Taft Union High School on Thursday morning in response to the shooting. Two emergency helicopters were also deployed.
Cleveland, the injured student, is hospitalized in critical condition.
Youngblood said that Oliver targeted Cleveland and another student because he felt bullied by them.
"Certainly he believe that the two people he targeted had bullied him, in his mind. Whether that occurred or not we don't know yet," the sheriff told reporters.
Oliver's schoolmates had worried that he would do something like this since last month.
"[Oliver] told Bowe that he watched 5 serial killer movies and thought of Bowe the whole time. Fucking. Creepy," 'Allie Who' tweeted on December 15.
'Allie Who' also tweeted that, "He made a hit list... why is he still allowed in school? And he always talks about murder like he's obsessed with it."
Student Mariah Doty tweeted that Oliver once "took a knife and pulled it out on somebody too."
Former Taft Union student Alex Patterson described the alleged shooter as "the kind of kid who would do something like this."
"He talked about it a lot, but nobody thought he would," Patterson told the Associated Press.
In a stroke of cruel irony, the shooting occurred just as Vice President Joe Biden was meeting with National Rifle Association (NRA) officials. Following that meeting, the NRA issued a statement expressing its disappointment with the Obama administration for what it calls "an agenda to attack the Second Amendment."
One of the proposed solutions to school shootings supported by the NRA is the posting of armed guards at every school in America. Taft Union high school employs such a guard, but he was reportedly "snowed in" and was not at the school at the time of the shooting.