SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) — Thousands of people gathered Sunday at a city park to hold a candlelight vigil to remember two students shot and killed by a classmate at his Southern California high school as investigators try to determine what prompted the deadly attack that left three other teens wounded.
Joann Garcia said she came to the vigil at Central Park shaken but determined to help the community heal from the shooting at Saugus High School.
“It’s very hard. We thought that this would never happen here. It has affected everybody,” she said. “We are all uniting.”
Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean touched on the theme of the vigil in her remarks.
“Tonight and every day we are Saugus strong,” she said.
Saugus High School will remain closed until Dec. 2, but counselors will be available to help students cope with their grief, said school district officials in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Clarita.
Detectives were searching for a motive for the killings carried out by Nathaniel Tennosuke Berhow on Thursday, his 16th birthday. The teen pulled a .45-caliber handgun from his backpack and shot five students at random before shooting himself in the head. He died the next day.
The dead were identified as 15-year-old Gracie Anne Muehlberger and 14-year-old Dominic Blackwell. They will be honored at a 7 p.m. vigil at Santa Clarita’s Central Park.
A wounded 14-year-old girl was released from the hospital late Friday. A 15-year-old girl remained hospitalized in good condition. A 14-year-old boy was treated and released Thursday.
Berhow had shown no signs of violence and didn’t appear to be linked to any ideology, authorities said.
After more than 40 interviews and a search of his home, authorities still were in the dark, Capt. Kent Wegener of the Sheriff’s Department’s homicide unit said at a news conference Friday.
“We did not find any manifesto, any diary that spelled it out, any suicide note or any writings,” he said.
Additional law enforcement will be posted Monday at schools in the Santa Clarita area.