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Last Santa Clarita shooting victim goes home; students allowed to pick up belongings at Saugus High

Saugus High School students
Saugus High School students embrace after being allowed on campus for a few hours to retrieve belongs left behind after the shooting last week in Santa Clarita, Calif.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Saugus High School students were allowed on campus Tuesday for the first time since a gunman last week killed two classmates and injured three others.

Gunfire on Thursday sent students running from the quad and barricading themselves inside classrooms as the shooter opened fire about 7:30 a.m. Police and witnesses say Nathaniel Berhow, who turned 16 that day, removed a .45-caliber pistol from his backpack and then shot five students before turning the gun on himself.

Two students — 15-year-old Gracie Muehlberger and 14-year-old Dominic Blackwell — died hours after the shooting. Three others were taken to nearby hospitals with gunshot wounds. A 14-year-old boy was released Thursday afternoon, and a 14-year-old girl was released Friday.

Saugus High School students
Saugus High School students were allowed on campus for a few hours to retrieve belongings left behind after the shooting last week.
(Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)
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The last hospitalized victim, a 15-year-old girl, was released from Providence Holy Cross Medical Center on Monday night, according to a hospital spokesperson.

In the aftermath of Thursday’s attack, students were escorted from the campus by law enforcement and taken to a nearby park to be reunited with their families. Books, schoolwork and other items were left behind.

Mike Kuhlman, deputy superintendent for William S. Hart Union High School District, said students may pick up their belongings from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday.

Classes at the Santa Clarita high school have been canceled until Dec. 2 in the wake of the violence, but the school won’t be closed entirely. School administrators have organized events and activities to help students heal from the trauma, including two counseling sessions: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. to noon Thursday.

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Saugus High
Sheriff’s deputies embrace a staff member as the Saugus High campus was reopened for several hours Tuesday.
(Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)

“It’s with a heavy heart that we approach this task,” he said in a statement. “We cannot lose sight of the fact that there are families in our community whose lives have been shattered by the events of this past week. Let us commit to caring for them — and for one another — as we take the first few steps toward healing and the resolution of positive daily routines for our children and loved ones.”

Students are not required to attend counseling sessions or other activities on campus while classes are canceled, officials said, but they are encouraged, as are family members. The district’s 15 other campuses reopened Monday.

“Students choosing to come back to campus will be surrounded by law enforcement officers, mental health professionals, community members and friends offering love and encouragement,” Kuhlman said.

Saugus High School
Students and parents gather around a memorial outside Saugus High School.
(Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)


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