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Taft Union school shooting: Panicked parents rush to students

January 10, 2013 | 11:51 am
PHOTOS: Shooting at Taft Union High School  Panicked Kern County parents rushed to Taft Union High School on Thursday morning after a shooting sent two students to area hospitals, one with a gunshot wound.

The shooting occurred in a science building at the high school in Taft, sheriff's officials said. Parents lined the block at nearby Roosevelt Elementary School, waiting to take their children home.

Wendi McDonald, whose daughter is a fourth grader, said she heard about the shooting from a friend. She tried to call her daughter's school, but said the phone line was busy for 30 minutes.

PHOTOS: Shooting at Taft Union High School

Given the Dec. 14 massacre at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school that left 20 students and six adults dead, McDonald said she feared the worst.

"Of course, you hit the panic button and think the worst," she said. "I'm just glad everyone here is OK and hoping everyone is going to be OK."

Sheriff's officials said one student was shot in the science building and airlifted to a hospital in Bakersfield, about 40 miles northeast of the small town of Taft. Another student was also taken to an area hospital with a possible injury, Kern County sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt said, although officials believe the student was not actually hit by gunfire.

The condition of the injured student was not immediately known.

The suspected gunman, also a student, was taken into custody, sheriff's officials said. Pruitt said a shotgun had been recovered from the scene.

Students were evacuated to a football field, and as of 11:30 a.m., authorities were still searching the building, Pruitt said.

According to a document posted on the high school’s website, administrators employ 43 security cameras in common areas, such as the cafeteria, hallways and at entryways to several structures on school grounds. The Kern County Sheriff’s Department also employs a full-time resources officer.

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— Kate Mather and Nicole Santa-Cruz

Photo: Sherry Knull waits with other parents for students to be released from Taft Union High School after a shooting Thursday morning. Credit: Alex Horvath / Bakersfield Californian

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