SANTA CLARITA, CA — Locked in an embrace, a mother and son share a moment to console each other—after the tragic events they went through earlier in the day.
14-year-old Rinel Rodrigo is a student at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California.
Where the horrific school shooting happened early Thursday—claiming two young lives, and injuring three others.
The suspect is another student—a 16-year-old boy who brought a semi-automatic pistol to school. According to reports, surveillance footage showed that the suspect pulled it out of his backpack, shot 5 rounds and used that last bullet on himself.
All this happened in just 16 seconds.
Rinel was already in school, in the locker room, when the shooting happened.
“I just saw a whole line of 30 people bolting out the gate trying to leave school. And as I was about to join them, since I didn’t know what’s going on, one of the teachers called me back in to the locker room and just locked the whole place up. I just felt in shock… I was kinda scared, it just felt unreal because we’re just a small community and its crazy to think that something like that can happen to us.”
He also said he knows the victims of the tragic shooting.
“I was friends with them, I knew some of them since elementary school. And some of them I just knew from 7th and 8th grade.”
Rinel’s mother, Irene, said she still could not believe that a mass shooting happened in their own small, tight-knit community.
“I was really scared—it was nervewracking, cause you don’t know what’s going on. Kasi di ba, you’re thinking your son, in the morning, they went to school, and you’re just expecting them to be there, and at the end of the day they’ll come home. It was just so unexpected.”
When asked if the tragedy could have been prevented, she offered a balanced opinion, and a heart-felt plea to keep kids safe.
“ Kasi two sides eh. If you own a gun, be responsible. Make sure its locked up. Kasi shempre on the other side, if you see somebody shooting at somebody, I wanna do something too right? Just be responsible. Don’t hurt people.”
By nightfall, at Central Park, the reunification area of parents and student earlier in the day, candles, flowers and balloons were offered at a makeshift memorial—in honor of the two victims who perished—and the others who were wounded.
The question in many people’s minds now is why — why another mass shooting happened in an American school today?
Authorities are saying the motive on this incident will come in days, as the investigation continues. But what is clear and evident, is that this community is in deep mourning.