March 22, 2001 -- Gunfire erupted today at a high school in a San Diego suburb, leaving six people, including the alleged gunman, wounded, police said.
Police said the suspect, identified as 18-year-old student Jason Hoffman, was wounded and taken into custody after exchanging gunfire with police near an administration building at Granite Hills High School. Authorities said Hoffman shot three students and two teachers as they were returning to class from a lunch period.
According to El Cajon Police Chief James Davis, the shots rang out at around 12:54 p.m. local time. A school resource officer and sheriff's deputy investigating another unrelated incident heard the shots and confronted Hoffman.
Police say the suspect fired at the officers and missed, hitting a police car. However, the officers didn't and Hoffman was taken to Sharp Memorial Hospital with bullet wounds to his face and buttocks. After having surgery, hospital officials said he is in stable condition.
Police Capt. Bill McClure said the suspect had not made a statement and that authorities had no clues about a possible motive.
Hospital officials said the five suffered pellet wound injuries that were not life-threatening. Several other people, hospital and police officials said, suffered injuries from flying glass or complained of chest pains or shortness of breath from the stress of the shooting. One woman even reportedly went into labor as she tried to check on the status of her child, a student at the high school.
Granger Ward, superintendent of Grossmont Union High School District, said he believed Granite Hills High School would be closed Friday so teachers, students and parents could recover and seek counseling for the second school shooting to shake the San Diego area this month.
‘It Sounded Like an Explosion’
As the shooting began, the high school went into immediate lockdown so that students would not be in the path of gunfire, school officials said. Then, officials evacuated the classrooms one-by-one and instructed students to go to a nearby park to meet their parents.
Police at the scene searched the school for more victims and perhaps another suspect. However, police said they found no other casualties and no other suspects.
Witnesses said they heard a number of shots before the suspect was wrestled to the ground by police.
"I was standing about 25 feet from the corner of the [administrative] office and I just heard a bunch of shots," said student Gaylon O'Neil. "I just dropped my backpack. I didn't see any of the people that were shot but I saw a couple of people running with their heads ducked, running away from that area."
One student said he heard at least eight shots and that the shooter crouched in a sniper position before opening fire on police.
"He reloaded a second time," said Chris Wesley, a junior. "The police were there actually pretty quick. It just seemed like he was planning on doing it."
Ryan Carrillo, a sophomore at the school, told KGTV in San Diego that he heard gunshots as he walked to a bathroom near the office.
"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 and into a nearby park.
Granite Hills High School school has approximately 2,900 students and is approximately 3 ½ miles from Santee, the town where Charles "Andy" Williams, 15, allegedly killed two fellow students and wounded 13 other people in a shooting spree March 5 at Santana High School. Both schools are part of the Grossmont Union High School District.
Williams will be charged as an adult with murder in the case and faces a rescheduled arraignment on March 26.
ABC Affiliate KGTV in San Diego contributed to this report.