As students arrived at Santana High School on the morning of March 5, no one knew the tragic fate that was about to befall the quiet suburban community; no one except for a skinny 15-year-old freshman named Charles “Andy” Williams.
Two people were killed and 13 wounded when Williams allegedly opened fire on students and faculty standing in the courtyard of a Santee high school, a middle-class suburb of San Diego. Students ran from the scene as the gunman stopped to reload his weapon, a .22-caliber revolver, and continued shooting.
Williams was taken into custody when two sheriff’s deputies found the boy kneeling on the floor of a boy’s bathroom. He surrendered his weapon and told the officers that he was the only assailant involved in the assault.
Within minutes, Police and SWAT units arrived at the school to find 15 students injured and bleeding. One of the slain students was pronounced dead on the scene, the other later died at a nearby hospital.
The killings, however, did not come without warning. According to friends of the alleged gunman, Williams mentioned that he was planning to bring a gun to school.
“We thought he was joking,” said John Schardt, a friend who spoke to Williams the weekend before the shootings, “We didn’t want to get him in trouble for just joking.”
“Every one keeps saying he was an outcast, but he wasn’t,” said Vanessa Willis, a 15-year-old friend and neighbor. “This is not something he would do. He didn’t sit there and plan it out step by step. He wasn’t sick in the head like those Columbine kids.”
After he was handcuffed and lying on the floor, Williams overheard the officers talking about the possibility of a second assailant. At that point, according to police, Williams said, “It’s only me.”