In Santa Clarita, a church grapples with the aftermath of a deadly school shooting

Religion News Service | 11/19/2019 | Staff
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LOS ANGELES (RNS) — Soon after a 16-year-old shot and killed two of his classmates and wounded three others at Saugus High School on Thursday (Nov. 14), Grace Baptist Church Senior Pastor David Hegg and members of his church opened their doors to the community.

Faculty and students came to the church — just a few miles from the school — where grief counselors were on hand. Police officers questioned witnesses at the church about what they saw during the shooting.

Mourners - Grace - Baptist - Night - Prayer

Mourners also gathered at Grace Baptist for a night of prayer just hours after the shooting struck the Santa Clarita community.

“Everything happened really fast. We wanted to do something,” Hegg told Religion News Service.

Shooting - Gracie - Anne - Muehlberger - Dominic

The shooting left 15-year-old Gracie Anne Muehlberger and 14-year-old Dominic Blackwell dead, as well as 16-year-old Nathaniel Tennosuke Berhow, the shooter, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot.

All were students at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita — a suburb about 30 miles north of Los Angeles. The school is about three miles from Grace Baptist. Classes at Saugus High will resume after Thanksgiving.

Authorities - Shooting - Berhow - Signs - Violence

Authorities don’t know what led to the deadly shooting. They said Berhow had not displayed signs of violence. He didn’t appear to be linked to any ideology or terrorist group.

Hegg said he feels for all the victims, including Berhow’s mother. The teen’s father died in 2017 of a heart attack.

Grace - Baptist - Members - Money - Victims

Grace Baptist members collected money for the victims during services over the weekend. The money will be distributed to the families of those victims, including Berhow’s mother. Thousands of dollars have already been raised for Blackwell and Muehlberger through GoFundMe. A GoFundMe page has also been set up for Berhow’s mother.

To Hegg, Berhow’s mother also needs help as some in the community may not rally around her in the same way.


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