Santana High School shooting

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Santana High School shooting
Part of mass shootings in the United States
LocationSantee, California, U.S.
DateMarch 5, 2001 (2001-03-05)
9:20 a.m.
Attack type
School shooting
WeaponsArminius HW-7 .22-caliber revolver[1]
Deaths2
Injured13
PerpetratorCharles Andrew "Andy" Williams
(15-year-old)

On March 5, 2001, a school shooting occurred at Santana High School in Santee, California. The gunman, 15-year-old Charles Andrew Williams, opened fire with an eight-shot .22-caliber revolver, killing two students and wounding 13 others. Williams was then apprehended by responding police officers and convicted. He is currently serving 50 years to life in prison.

Background[edit]

Weeks before the shooting, Williams allegedly attempted to speak with a school counselor but was instructed to return to class because the office was full at the time. He later reportedly complained to a school counselor multiple times about being bullied and told a school security guard he was going to bring a gun to campus, but evidence has not been found for either claim.[2]

As the semester unfolded, friends came to believe that Williams had just reached a tipping point and mentioned he "didn't want to live anymore," which resulted in more name-calling and threats of bullying. The Friday before the shooting, Williams and classmates reported that his drama teacher humiliated him in front of the class during an acting exercise for which he was not prepared, which he perceived as an abusive setup.[3] Williams spoke on two occasions of his plan to "pull a Columbine" at Santana High School, but no reports were ever made of these threats to the school. He also made plans to get on top of the school's roof so that he could hit people more easily. Many friends claimed that Williams brought up his plan repeatedly prior to the shooting but would claim to just be joking, at least two friends claimed to have been warned by Williams the day before the attack but they thought he was joking.[4][2] The first occasion was a week before the shooting, the second during the weekend prior to March 5.[5]

Shooting[edit]

On March 5, 2001, at 9:20 a.m., 15-year-old Charles Andrew Williams entered a boys' bathroom at Santana High School with a loaded eight-shot .22-caliber revolver taken from his father's locked gun cabinet and fatally shot a freshman.[1] He then left the bathroom and began firing the revolver indiscriminately at other students, killing another. According to one witness, Williams repeatedly walked out of the bathroom, fired shots, then went back into the bathroom. Others recounted that Williams methodically confronted and shot other students.[2] The scene soon turned chaotic as students and teachers ducked or scrambled to safety. Minutes later, the school was on lockdown.

A student teacher, Tim Estes, and Campus Security Supervisor, Peter Ruiz, walked into the bathroom to investigate what Ruiz thought may be the sound of firecrackers. Upon entering the restroom, Ruiz was shot once in the shoulder by Williams. As Estes and Ruiz turned to run, Ruiz was hit in the back by two more bullets and Estes was hit in the back by a bullet which exited through his abdomen.

Two off-duty police officers who were visiting the school were alerted to the shooting, but were at different ends of the school. One of them approached the bathroom and called for backup. More officers quickly arrived, with many witnessing a swarm of students fleeing the building as they were trying to enter making it difficult. Responding officers discovered Williams in the bathroom along with two wounded victims, with one officer recounting that Williams was found in the process of reloading, the chamber was open and he was putting bullets in the gun.[6] Williams calmly surrendered stating: "It's just me, I'm the only one."[7][8]

The San Diego SWAT team was called to "assess and clear" the scene of the shooting.[9] Paramedics brought all of the wounded together and lined them up outside the principals office and wrote numbers on them in order to keep track of the wounded before transporting them to a hospital.[10]

Victims[edit]

In the end, he shot 15 people, two of whom died. The two students that were killed were 14-year-old Bryan Zuckor and 17-year-old Randy Gordon.[11] Eleven students and two school supervisors suffered gunshot wounds and were treated at either the UC San Diego Medical Center or Rady Children's Hospital.[9]

Perpetrator[edit]

Charles Andrew Williams
Born (1986-02-08) February 8, 1986 (age 36)
Criminal statusIncarcerated
MotivePotential reaction to sexual molestation and school bullying[12]
Conviction(s)All counts, August 15, 2002
Criminal charge2 counts of murder, 13 counts of attempted murder
Penalty50 years to life in prison[13]
Details
DateMarch 5, 2001
CountryUnited States
State(s)California
Killed2
Injured13
WeaponsArminius HW-7 .22-caliber revolver[1]
Imprisoned atCalifornia Institution for Men, Chino, California

Charles Andrew Williams was born in Frederick, Maryland on February 8, 1986, the firstborn child of Jeff and Linda Williams. Known by his family as "Andrew" or "Andy" for short, he had one half-brother, Michael. His parents divorced in 1990, leaving his father with custody and little contact with his mother.[14] Jeff and Andy moved to California in the fall. While attending Santana High School, Williams was bullied by fellow students because of his small size.[9] He began to spend time with a crowd of skateboarders. Williams was accepted within this peer group; however, at times these individuals also bullied him. Jeff has stated that an older man bought the boys alcohol and drugs in exchange for sexual favors and that Andy did not mention this abuse until long after his arrest.[14] In 2011, that older man, Chris Reynolds, was sentenced to 40 years in prison in Oklahoma for molesting other adolescent boys.[15]

He took his father's Arminius .22 caliber long-rifle double action revolver from the locked gun cabinet in their apartment.[16] After his arrest, he told investigators that he was "tired of being bullied". On the way to juvenile hall, Williams said that he did it because he was dared to by his friends.[17] He also has stated at least three different anticipated outcomes of the shooting when speaking with authorities.[2]

Legal[edit]

On June 20, 2002, Williams pleaded guilty to all charges against him in an effort to avoid trial.[18] On August 15, 2002, a California judge sentenced Williams, as an adult, to 50 years to life in prison, and ordered him to serve his time in the Youth Offender Program at CCI, Tehachapi (since closed) until his 18th birthday, at which time he would be transferred to an adult prison. Williams was given credit for the 529 days that he had served in juvenile hall, fined $10,000 and ordered to pay restitution to the Victims Restitution Fund. At his sentencing, Williams apologized and expressed remorse for his actions. On March 1, 2004, he was transferred to an adult prison. Williams is currently incarcerated at the California Institution for Men in Chino, California. He will be eligible for parole in March 2025, when he is 39 years old.[19]

There was a grass-root effort to have Williams' sentence reduced. His supporters argue that the judge was too harsh in sentencing Williams as an adult and did not take into consideration Williams' age at the time of his offense. They would like to see Williams get a retrial, but as a juvenile, which would have meant confinement by the California Youth Authority until age 25. The California State Attorney General's office handled a total of six appeals filed by Williams supporters, four to the Court of Appeals and two to the California State Supreme Court. The district court denied his petition in September 2010 and the case is now on appeal to the 9th Circuit, according to the California Attorney General's Office.[20][better source needed]

In 2018, it was reported that Williams petitioned California Governor Jerry Brown for sentence commutation after a new law was signed prohibiting defendants under 16-years of age to be tried as adults. The San Diego District Attorney's office stated they adamantly opposed the petition as were victims and family members of victims.[21]

Reactions[edit]

President George W. Bush offered his condolences "to the teachers and the children whose lives have been turned upside-down right now." Bush called the shooting "a disgraceful act of cowardice," adding, "When America teaches our children right from wrong and teaches values that respect life in our country, we'll be better off." But, he said, "First things are first. And our prayers go out to the families that lost a child today."[22]

California Governor Gray Davis also said he was "shocked and deeply saddened" by the shooting. Davis' wife Sharon is a Santana High School graduate.[22]

The nu metal band Linkin Park, of whom Williams was a fan, were seen as influencing Williams' actions. Following the shooting, the band released a statement saying, "Like everyone else, we are extremely saddened by these events and our hearts go out to the families and friends to the victims."[23] Williams had written a note to his father prior to the shooting: "I tried so hard, and got so far, but in the end it doesn't really matter." The line was an excerpt from the band's 2001 song "In the End."

Legacy[edit]

The shooting led to the development of regional active shooter response training called Immediate Action, Rapid Deployment (IARD), which has become routine for any law enforcement agency to enter a critical incident scene, and to find and stop the threat as soon as possible.[7]

A twentieth anniversary candlelight vigil was hosted on March 5, 2021 by the Santana High School classes of 2001-2004 to honor the victims and families of the victims of the shooting.[24]

Depiction in media[edit]

The shooting partly inspired the P.O.D. song "Youth of the Nation".[25]

In an interview with "NOVA: Mind of a Rampage Killer", Williams said he had been suicidal for several months before the shooting. He described his 15-year-old life as tumultuous, recounting the pain of his parents' recent divorce, his move across the country from Maryland to California, and the death of a friend. His description of his mental state was "numb," adding that he didn't realize people would die, but he wanted to "make a lot of noise and then the cops would show up." He admitted that his real plan was to commit suicide by cop, however he "changed his mind at the last minute, dropped his revolver and surrendered."[26][27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Jacobson, Rebecca (February 18, 2013). "School Shooter: 'My Grand Plan Was Suicide by Cop'". PBS. NewsHour Productions LLC. Retrieved June 25, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d Langman, Peter (December 28, 2015). "Charles Andrew Williams: Sorting Out the Contradictions" (PDF). School Shooters Info. pp. 1–10. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 8, 2021. Retrieved April 19, 2022.
  3. ^ Dickey, Fred (May 10, 2013). "Column: Killer recounts Santana High shooting". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  4. ^ "Community Mourns Lives Lost In School Shooting". KGTV. March 7, 2001. Archived from the original on March 9, 2001.
  5. ^ Purdum, Todd S. (March 6, 2001). "Shooting at School Leaves 2 Dead and 13 Hurt". The New York Times. Retrieved August 12, 2020.
  6. ^ Pena, Lindsey (March 5, 2021). "Santana High School shooting: 20 years later". KGTV. Retrieved March 1, 2022.
  7. ^ a b Ojeda, Artie (March 5, 2021). "First Responders Reflect on Santana High School Shooting 20 Years Later". NBC 7 San Diego. Retrieved March 1, 2022.
  8. ^ "San Diego Community Stunned By School Shooting". KGTV. March 6, 2001. Archived from the original on March 8, 2001.
  9. ^ a b c "2 Dead, 13 Hurt in Calif. School Shooting". ABC News. March 5, 2001. Retrieved May 6, 2011.
  10. ^ Scmidt, Steve (September 2, 2016). "Scars of the Santana High shooting - 10 years later". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved March 1, 2022.
  11. ^ "Santana High School Shooting Victims". KGTV. Archived from the original on March 9, 2001.
  12. ^ Langman, Ph.D., Peter (December 28, 2015). "Charles Andrew Williams: Sorting Out the Contradictions" (PDF). schoolshooters.info.
  13. ^ Jiménez, Jose Luis (August 17, 2002). "Santana High School shooting - After sentencing of teen killer, Santee takes 'time for healing'". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on August 15, 2016. Retrieved June 25, 2016.
  14. ^ a b Goodwin, Christopher; Hattenstone, Simon (October 28, 2011). "My child, the murderer". The Guardian. Retrieved March 5, 2020.
  15. ^ "Man given 40-year term for sex crimes involving teen boys | Crime News | tulsaworld.com".
  16. ^ Portner, Jessica (April 29, 2001). "How kids get guns". San Jose Mercury News. Archived from the original on August 7, 2001.
  17. ^ McCarthy, Terry (March 11, 2001). "WARNING: Andy Williams here. Unhappy kid. Tired of being picked on". Time. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  18. ^ Ellingwood, Ken; Perry, Tony (March 9, 2001). "Teen Stands Accused of Murder Charles Williams Arraigned for High School Shooting". The Tech (MIT).
  19. ^ "CDCR Public Inmate Locator Disclaimer".
  20. ^ Perez, Steve (March 5, 2011). "Where is the Santana Shooter Now?". Santee, CA Patch. Retrieved June 25, 2016.
  21. ^ Pura, Anthony (December 18, 2018). "Santana High School shooter petitions for early prison release". KGTV. Retrieved March 1, 2022.
  22. ^ a b "Suspect had talked about shooting at school". CNN. March 5, 2001.
  23. ^ "School Killings Carried Out by Linkin Park Fan". NME. March 9, 2001. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  24. ^ "Candlelight vigil to be held for 20th anniversary of Santana High School shooting -". McKinnon Broadcasting. March 5, 2021. Retrieved March 1, 2022.
  25. ^ Blatt, Mitchell P.O.D. Interview: Back Together, New Album in April Archived April 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine Juiced Sports (March 13, 2008). Retrieved on July 6, 2021.
  26. ^ O'Brien, Miles (May 31, 2014). "Looking within the mind of a rampage killer". PBS.
  27. ^ O'Brien, Miles (February 20, 2013). "Mind of a Rampage Killer". NOVA. PBS. Archived from the original on January 25, 2013. Retrieved June 25, 2016.

External links[edit]