Gunfire erupted at a San
Diego-area high school Thursday, injuring at least 10 people, authorities
said. Three teens and two teacher have been wounded and others injured by
shooting at Granite Hills was reported at 12:54 p.m. Granite Hills High,
with 2,900 students. The shooting
occurred just four miles south of Santee, Calif., the scene of the most
recent school shooting. At least one person was in custody. "School
shooting at Granite Hills was reported at 12:54 p.m.
Granite Hills High, with 2,900 students, is just four
miles south of Santana High School in Santee, where
two students were killed and 13 other people were
wounded on March 5. Both schools are in the same
district 17 miles east of San Diego.
Granite Hills High - March 22, 2001, El Cajon, California. [Crisis
Action Plan Training] Five people were shot and possible others were injured by none gunfire Thursday
as gunfire erupted at a high school less than three weeks after two students
were killed at a nearby school.
An 18-year-old suspect was one of the five with gunshot wounds, police said. The
one other victim was believed to be a 16-year-old,
but no details were released. The other victims were students and
adults injured by broken glass and by falling, McClure said. The
midday shooting at Granite Hills High School sparked a confusing scene, with
officers scrambling across the campus as many of the 2,900 students fled to
a nearby park.
What happened wasn't immediately clear: McClure said a school police
officer confronted the gunman near the administration building. School
district spokesman Jim Esterbrooks said an El Cajon police officer was
making a presentation to students when the shooting occurred.
``That probably saved the school from a far worse fate,'' Esterbrooks
The gunman was wounded in an exchange of gunfire with a policeman, he
said, but he did not know if it was the officer making the presentation.
An 18-year-old believed to be the shooter was taken to surgery for a
bullet wound to the face, said Eileen Cornish, a spokeswoman for Sharp
Memorial Hospital. The hospital also received a 16-year-old student with a
superficial wound to the chest, she said. ``My information right now
is that no one was seriously injured,'' said Granger Ward, superintendent of
Grossmont Union High School District.
Junior Chris Wesley told KGTV he recognized the suspect as a student of Granite Hills last year. The gunman fired at
least eight shots and reloaded his weapon during the shooting, Wesley said.
``It just seemed like he was planning on doing it,'' Wesley said. [Assessment
of Early Warning Signs] Ryan Carrillo, a sophomore at the
school, told KGTV that he heard gunshots as he walked to a bathroom near the
``It sounded like an explosion, like in a chemistry class or something,''
he said of the first two shots he heard. After hearing five more shots, he
ran out of the school. [Crisis
Action Plan Training] San Diego County sheriff's
spokesman Dan Papp said deputies were also at the school taking a report
when the shooting happened, but he didn't know why.
Surrounding streets were closed and students streamed from the school and
walked to a nearby grade school, where they were to be picked up by their
"There's parents all over the place, everybody's on the cell
phones," said one man at the scene. "One mother was standing here
talking with her daughter, who's actually in one of the classrooms, talking
to her on the cell phone."
Police were urging parents not to travel to the school in an attempt to
retrieve their children.
A staging area near the school was being set up at a nearby elementary
school where parents and children could reunite, Cook said.
Granite Hills High is just a few miles south of Santana High School in
Santee, where a 15-year-old student allegedly killed two classmates and
injured 13 others on March 5. Both schools are in the same district 17 miles
east of San Diego. (See
- A community violence prevention program).
EL CAJON, Calif. - Three weeks
ago, after a deadly shooting spree at Santana High School, officials at the
regional school district took steps to prevent such an attack from ever
Full-time, armed police officers were assigned to the district's 12
campuses. Administrators and teachers reviewed crisis plans, and students
were encouraged to report the slightest threat or rumor.
In spite of the precautions, a Granite Hills High School senior named
Jason Hoffman allegedly knelt next to a eucalyptus tree in a small quad in
front of the school and opened fire with a 12-gauge shotgun, wounding three
students and two teachers.
In the aftermath of Thursday's attack, school and city officials wonder
if there is anything they can do to prevent campus violence.
``You figure the odds are astronomical it would happen in the same school
district,'' said El Cajon Mayor Mark Lewis, a 1966 Granite Hills graduate.
``We're just going to have to seek a solution - if there is one.''
The Granite Hills and Santana campuses are both in the Grossmont Union
High School District, hardly six miles apart. Students from the schools
share sports rivalries and friendships, and see each other on Sundays at
After the March 5 rampage at Santana, district officials were well aware
of the possibility of a copycat crime, said school board member Ted Crooks.
Safety had always been a top priority, he said, but officials stressed it
more than ever at Granite Hills and other campuses.
Granite Hills ``was as prepared and as proactive as they could have
been,'' said Dan McGeorge, school board president.
``I don't think the administration is to blame,'' added Sean Connacher,
18, a Granite Hills senior. ``He was an angry kid. What are they going to
Moments after the gunfire started Thursday, Hoffman was chased and shot
by campus police Agent Rich Agundez Jr. Hoffman was hospitalized with a
broken jaw and a bullet wound to his buttocks. He faces probable charges of
attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.
``Our school resource officer, Rich Agundez, is my personal hero
because he acted immediately,'' said Granite Hills Principal Georgette
Torres. ``I'm just glad he was in the office, because if he wasn't there, a
lot of people would have died.''
``I think that the effectiveness of the response in minimizing the
circumstances clearly shows this school was well-prepared,'' McGeorge said.
Ironically, those preparations were discussed at a meeting of school
administrators and Granite Hills parents the night before the attack at the
``Thankfully, this school responded exactly the way we all said it would
the night before,'' Crooks said.
Experts say it's not possible to totally eliminate the threat of school
violence, but they believe it can be minimized with increased security and
``You don't want to turn teachers into the Gestapo. And yet at the same
time, it's difficult for a student to focus on decimal placement in math
class if he or she is worried about being shot before the day is out,'' said
Ronald D. Stephens, executive director of the National School Safety Center.
``So it's a question of how do you strike a balance.''
``I'm supposed to feel safe at school. If I come to school thinking I'm
going to be shot, what's that going to do?'' said Billy Ditzler, 16, who
sprained his neck and back Thursday diving to the floor when the gunfire
began. ``I'm just afraid it's going to happen again.''
Some frightened parents are demanding tighter security while others are
seeking alternative ways to educate their children.
``Brick-and-mortar schools will cease to exist if this continues,'' said
Mike Cook, who is considering home-schooling his 15-year-old daughter rather
than allowing her to return to Granite Hills.
``If we can't stop it, home-schooling will start and Internet education
will take over,'' he said.
SAN DIEGO, September 13, 2001 -- An El Cajon student who
wounded five people in a shooting rampage on a high school campus in March
pleaded guilty today and agreed to a life term with a possibility of parole.
Under the agreement reached with prosecutors, Jason A. Hoffman will
serve at least 17 years for discharging a firearm. After this sentence is
completed, he will begin serving a life term for the attempted murder of
Granite Hills High School Vice Principal Daniel Barnes.
Hoffman, 18, showed little emotion and offered no explanation for his
actions as he pleaded guilty and listened to the judge’s response. On
March 22, Hoffman arrived at Granite Hills High School about 1 p.m., armed
with a Mossberg pump-action 12-gauge shotgun and a .22-caliber pistol. He
fired at least eight rounds from the shotgun but apparently did not use the
Hoffman fired one round at his principal but missed. He wounded three
students and two teachers before he was shot in the face by School Resource
Officer Rich Agundez Jr. and then arrested. Agundez, an SRO, fired five
rounds from his service revolver. One of the bullets disabled Hoffman's
shotgun. The officer was not hurt.
Reported By: Mike Nelson Director Keys To Safer Schools