Charles Andrew Williams

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Charles Andrew Williams, Jr.
Born (1986-02-08) February 8, 1986 (age 34)
Criminal statusIncarcerated
MotiveSexual Molestation, School bullying, [1]
Conviction(s)All counts, August 15, 2002
Criminal charge2 counts of murder, 13 counts of attempted murder
Penalty50 years to life in prison[2]
DateMarch 5, 2001
CountryUnited States
WeaponsArminius HW-7 .22-caliber revolver[3]
Imprisoned atCalifornia Institution for Men, Chino, CA

Charles Andrew Williams Jr. (born February 8, 1986) is a convicted murderer who, as a 15-year-old, perpetrated the shooting at Santana High School on March 5, 2001. In the shooting, two students were killed and 13 others were wounded. Williams is currently serving 50 years to life in prison.

Early years[edit]

Williams is known by his family as "Andrew" or "Andy" for short and was born in Frederick, Maryland on February 8, 1986, the firstborn child of Jeff and Linda Williams. Andy has one half-brother, Michael. His parents divorced in 1990, leaving his father with custody and a small amount of contact with his mother.[4] Jeff and Andy moved to California in the fall. Williams attended Santana High School in Santee, California, where he was bullied by fellow students.[5] 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 allegedly bought the boys alcohol and drugs in exchange for sexual favors and that Andy did not mention this abuse until long after his arrest.[4] That older man, Chris Reynolds, is now incarcerated in Oklahoma for molesting other adolescent boys.[6]

Weeks before the shooting, Williams attempted to speak with a school counselor, but was instructed to return to class because the office was full at the time. As the semester unfolded and the abuse continued, 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.[7] By early 2001, Williams seemed to believe that his problems would not resolve themselves. The Friday before the shooting, Williams and classmates reported that his drama teacher humiliated him in front of the class during an acting exercise, which he perceived as an abusive setup.[7] 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. The friends he informed were asked to leave the school.[8] The first occasion was a week before the shooting, the second during the weekend prior to March 5.[9]

He took his father's Arminius .22 caliber long-rifle double action revolver from the locked gun cabinet in their apartment.[10] 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.[11]


Santana High School shooting
LocationSantee, California, U.S.
DateMarch 5, 2001
9:20 a.m.
Attack type
School shooting
WeaponsArminius HW-7 .22-caliber revolver[3]
PerpetratorCharles Andrew "Andy" Williams
MotiveSchool bullying

On Monday, March 5, 2001 at 9:20 a.m., 15-year-old Williams entered a boys' bathroom at Santana High School with a loaded 8-shot .22-caliber revolver taken from his father's locked gun cabinet and fatally shot a freshman.[3] 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. The scene soon turned chaotic as students and teachers ducked or scrambled to safety. Minutes later, the school was on lockdown. Williams reloaded his revolver at least once. 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 and charged the bathroom, where they discovered Williams kneeling on the floor with the weapon in his hands. He wanted to commit suicide, but was unable to do so. He told the officers that he was by himself. In the end, he shot 15 people, two of whom died.[12]

Williams surrendered and was taken into custody. The two students that were killed were 14-year-old Bryan Zuckor and 17-year-old Randy Gordon.[13] Eleven students and two school supervisors suffered gunshot wounds and were treated at either University of California, San Diego Medical Center or Rady Children's Hospital. The San Diego SWAT team was called to "assess and clear" the scene of the shooting.[5]


President of the United States 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."[14]

California Governor Gray Davis also said he was "shocked and deeply saddened" by the shooting. Davis' wife Sharon is a Santana High School graduate.[14]

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."[15] 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."

Since the incident, Santana High has hired police to patrol the school. The school also holds an event for the students on the anniversary of the shooting.


On June 20, 2002, Williams pleaded guilty to all charges against him in an effort to avoid trial.[16] 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.

In an interview with "NOVA: Mind of a Rampage Killer," Williams admitted to being 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 jolting 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."[17][18]

Currently, there are grass-root efforts 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.[19]

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.[20]


  1. ^ Langman, Ph.D., Peter (December 28, 2015). "Charles Andrew Williams: Sorting Out the Contradictions" (PDF).
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ a b Goodwin, Christopher; Hattenstone, Simon (October 28, 2011). "My child, the murderer". The Guardian. Retrieved March 5, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "2 Dead, 13 Hurt in Calif. School Shooting". ABC News. March 5, 2001. Retrieved May 6, 2011.
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b Dickey, Fred (May 10, 2013). "Column: Killer recounts Santana High shooting". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  8. ^ "Community Mourns Lives Lost In School Shooting". KGTV. March 7, 2001. Archived from the original on March 9, 2001.
  9. ^ Purdum, Todd S. (March 6, 2001). "Shooting at School Leaves 2 Dead and 13 Hurt". The New York Times. Retrieved August 12, 2020.
  10. ^ Portner, Jessica (April 29, 2001). "How kids get guns". San Jose Mercury News. Archived from the original on August 7, 2001.
  11. ^ McCarthy, Terry (March 11, 2001). "WARNING: Andy Williams here. Unhappy kid. Tired of being picked on". Time. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  12. ^ "San Diego Community Stunned By School Shooting". KGTV. March 6, 2001. Archived from the original on March 8, 2001.
  13. ^ "Santana High School Shooting Victims". KGTV. Archived from the original on March 9, 2001.
  14. ^ a b "Suspect had talked about shooting at school". CNN. March 5, 2001.
  15. ^ "School Killings Carried Out by Linkin Park Fan". NME. March 9, 2001. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  16. ^ Ellingwood, Ken; Perry, Tony (March 9, 2001). "Teen Stands Accused of Murder Charles Williams Arraigned for High School Shooting". The Tech (MIT).
  17. ^ O'Brien, Miles (May 31, 2014). "Looking within the mind of a rampage killer". PBS.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ Perez, Steve (March 5, 2011). "Where is the Santana Shooter Now?". Santee, CA Patch. Retrieved June 25, 2016.
  20. ^

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