A terrifying rampage ends with a teen’s death at Westlake High School

A woman hugs two children as they stand near a sidewalk memorial.
Kelly Welling, with son Cody and daughter Hannah, visit a sidewalk memorial for 15-year-old Wesley Welling outside Westlake High School on Wednesday.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

In the span of an hour Tuesday afternoon, law enforcement officials say, a 24-year-old Westlake High School alumnus went on a deadly rampage across southern Ventura County, killing a 15-year-old, injuring five and endangering several others in a sequence of assaults that officials have been able to describe only as senseless.

Austin Eis traveled more than 30 miles to three locations, leaving a trail of bloodshed and mayhem, officials with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office and Simi Valley Police Department said Wednesday.

He first entered a Simi Valley Walmart, where he pepper-sprayed a male employee, seemingly without provocation, then stabbed him, according to Cmdr. Ritchie Lew, a spokesperson for the Simi Valley police.


The assailant then physically assaulted a second employee and attempted to drag her away, police said. When other employees tried to intervene, Lew said, the attacker lunged at them with a knife before running from the store.

About 40 minutes later, the suspect entered his family residence in Camarillo without permission, investigators say. He threatened multiple occupants with a knife and brandished a firearm, said Deputy Wendell Campbell, a Ventura County sheriff’s spokesperson.

About 20 minutes later, he drove up to a bus stop near his alma mater, Westlake High School, in Thousand Oaks and intentionally plowed into a group of teens, Campbell said. Eis graduated from the school in 2017.

Wesley Welling, 15, was killed in the crash; three others were injured.

Officials have not determined a motive for the crimes. Campbell said evidence at the scene of the crash and witness statements led authorities to believe the crash was intentional.

Eis has been booked on seven felony counts, including murder and attempted murder, according to the Sheriff’s Office. He had no known criminal history, Campbell said.

“It’s awful that this guy yesterday woke up and chose violence,” said Eric Paul, a close friend of Wesley’s family who created a GoFundMe page to help with the teen’s funeral costs.


He said Wesley was a “bright and happy kid” who had been excited to attend high school with his older sister and talked about going to college.

“He had his whole life ahead of him,” said Paul, 32.

Family and friends on Wednesday remembered Wesley as a beloved teen with a bright future.

“More people loved him than I ever knew about,” said Kelly Welling, Wesley’s mother.

She and Wesley’s two siblings, Hannah and Cody, visited an expanding makeshift memorial in front of Westlake High on Wednesday afternoon. Welling had tears in her eyes as she laid a photograph of Wesley onto a bed of flowers.

Hannah was with Wesley and the other students at the time of the crash just after 3:30 p.m. Tuesday on Lakeview Canyon Road, but she was not hit.

“By some miracle my daughter was standing right next to him, and it could have been both of them,” Welling said.

Austin Eis, 24, was arrested a day after teenagers were struck by a vehicle near Westlake High School. Authorities concluded the crash was intentional.

April 19, 2023

Hannah said she and her brother were waiting for the bus together, but she was farther from the seating area.

“I heard the skid and then everything happened so fast,” Hannah said. “I don’t know what happened, where he was or how he got hit at all.”


Wesley was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Another 15-year-old boy and two girls, 14 and 16, were also taken to a hospital, Campbell said. Two have since been released, and the extent of the third’s injuries was not known Wednesday, he said.

Both Walmart employees were brought to the hospital Tuesday afternoon, Lew said. The woman was released shortly after; the man, who had multiple stab wounds, remained hospitalized in stable condition.

No one was injured in the Camarillo home.

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April 19, 2023

On Wednesday evening, Sonny Hernandez walked with his parents to Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village, less than two miles from Westlake High, where a vigil for Wesley was held.

Sonny said he and Wesley had shared a fifth-period video game design class the previous semester where they bonded over their love of video games.

“He was kind. ... He was welcoming,” he said. “He invited you to hang out.”

At the vigil, hundreds of other Westlake High School students, like Sonny, and their parents gathered for prayer.

Some from outside the Westlake High community also attended. Caitlyn Schrader, a student at Royal High School in Simi Valley, was moved to attend although she didn’t personally know Wesley. She carried flowers into the event and said the crash had left her shaken.


“I don’t even want to go to school anymore because it’s just so scary,” Caitlyn said. “I’m not willing to die to get an education.”

The online fundraiser for Wesley’s family had raised nearly 10 times its initial $15,000 goal by Wednesday afternoon, as people shared their condolences and memories of the teen.

Wesley was the middle child, Paul said, calling the Wellings a close family who often went camping or to the beach.

“They went on so many trips,” Paul said. “They did everything as a big family.”

Wesley loved to play video and board games, said his younger brother, Cody. The two had shared a bedroom, Paul said.

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“He loved being a big brother,” Paul said.

Mental health counselors were at campuses districtwide Wednesday for students, staff and families, said Supt. Mark McLaughlin of the Conejo Valley Unified School District.

“During this time of unimaginable loss, our thoughts and prayers remain with these students, their families, friends, and the entire Warrior community,” McLaughlin said in a statement to parents.