A California high school teacher is being praised as a hero for talking down a 16-year-old student who shot a boy in the chest on Thursday morning and tried to fire a 12-gauge shotgun at another student. \
Despite a minor pellet wound to the head from the unidentified gunman, science teacher Ryan Heber ushered his 28 students out the door as he pleaded with the shooter to lay down his arms. Police said the suspect had as many as 20 rounds in his pocket.
Along with a campus supervisor identified by local media as Kim Fields, Heber successfully managed to get the gunman to surrender and turn himself over to police who swarmed Taft Union High School, about 30 miles from Bakersfield, according to the Bakersfield Californian
"They stood there face-to-face (with the gunman) not knowing whether he's going to turn that shotgun on them," Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said. "The heroics of these two people goes without saying."
Hundreds of Taft students took to Facebook and Twitter to express their gratitude toward Heber and Fields for saving the lives of students and faculty.
"His students like him a whole bunch," Heber's father, David, 70, told The Daily Mail. "He's not the kind of teacher a student would try to hurt. He's definitely someone who could talk a kid down in an emergency."
The unnamed victim who was shot in the chest is in critical but stable condition, officials said. Another student may have suffered hearing damage after the gun was fired close to her ear. A fourth stumbled over a table but suffered minor injuries.
“This is a tragedy but not as bad as we think it might have been,” Youngblood said.
CNN is reporting that the suspect said he was bullied by the two students he targeted. Youngblood said he did not know whether it was actually true, though.
Youngblood laid out a detailed scenario of the hours before the shooting, saying the student planned the assault the night before, and took a shotgun belonging to his brother.
The youth will be charged as a juvenile with attempted murder, and it will be up to prosecutors to decide whether he should be charged as an adult, the sheriff said.
He was caught on school surveillance cameras, the sheriff said, using a side entrance instead of the school's main door and "appearing nervous" as he tried to conceal the shotgun when he entered the school.
The suspect, who came halfway through the first period of the day, waved the gun in different directions and after firing at the victim, aimed at another student and missed, Youngblood said.
The Taft shooting comes weeks after the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., in which a gunman invaded Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 20 students and six adults.
The school was closed on Friday, but counselors were available for students and staff.
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