Police and sheriff's deputies gather at the scene of the shooting
Police and sheriff’s deputies at the scene of the shooting in Santa Clarita. Courtesy Los Angeles County Sheriff

Friends and neighbors of the Saugus High School shooting suspect described him as a quiet and kind person and not someone they would not have expected to open fire on classmates.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has not identified the shooter, but multiple broadcast reports said he is 16-year-old Nathan Berhow, a student at the school in Santa Clarita north of Los Angeles.

“He was respectful, how he talked about others,” neighbor Jared Axen told KTLA5. “It could be just the relationship that he and I had together, but, you know, I just wish he was willing to say that he needed some help.”

Axen said Berhow’s father died about two years ago and it was his understanding Nathan found his father’s body inside the family’s home.

Axen said he knew the family his entire life and was surprised by what occurred at the school.

Berhow’s mother, Mami Mastuura, told The Daily Mail “I don’t even know what to do right now, I am just praying for my son’s life.”

A student named Maxwell told Fox11 that in the days leading up to the shooting Berhow had been acting differently.

“As far as I could tell from the recent days that I’ve seen him, he was looking kind of down and I guess just kind of depressed about something,” Maxwell said. “I didn’t really ask him what it was that he was depressed about, but from what I could tell he was different. He wasn’t acting like himself.”

A cross-country teammate of Berhow’s was shocked he could be capable of such a violent act.

“He was such the nicest person… I don’t know why he would ever do this, especially on his birthday,” the teammate told Fox11.

Berhow turned 16 on Thursday.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.