Local police departments increased their presence at campuses across the county following a deadly school shooting in Santa Clarita Thursday morning.
“Our department has taken the step of making sure that our officers are maintaining a presence in front of all of our schools within our jurisdiction, making sure that the kids there know that we’re there to protect them, that we’re there to pay attention, and really just keeping an extra watchful eye today,” SDPD Sgt. Matthew Botkin told NBC 7.
Chula Vista Police Department Lt. Dan Peak said it's important for students, staff and parents to see the department's presence on days like these.
"You have a phone in your hand and you see about the tragic events that occurred up in the LA area, the first thing a student is going to think of is, ‘That could happened to me." So when they look outside and they see a police car, that gives them assurance that they’re going to be safe," Lt. Peak said.
Two students at Saugus High School, about 140 miles north of the City of San Diego, were killed when a 16-year-old classmate pulled a handgun from his backpack and opened fire. Three other victims remain hospitalized.
"I hate to have Saugus be added to the names of Columbine, Parkland, Sandy Hook, but it's a reality that affects us all throughout the nation," Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said.
Villanueva said the 16-year-old shooter, who used a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol to shoot his classmates and then himself, was transported to a hospital in grave condition. He shot himself in the head, Villanueva said.
Botkin said SDPD’s increased presence in the city was important.
“We also want to communicate to the kids, again, that you can go to school, and you can feel safe – that we’re here to respond,” Botkin said.
Botkin said San Diego officers made runs by schools within the school.
“We are constantly preparing, maintaining a solid state of readiness so that if something like this ever happens, we’ll get there quickly, we will stop the threat, and we will make everything as safe as we can as soon as we can,” he said.
When first responders converged on the school's outdoor quad, they found multiple injured students, including the suspected shooter. They were all transported to the hospital in the chaos of the situation.
The law enforcement response to a smiliar incident in San Diego would look a lot like Thursday's scene in Santa Clarita, Lt. Peak said.
“The active shooter protocols have really gone nationwide. The response that we would do here in San Diego County is very similar to what would happen up in LA, or maybe even across the country. We understand as first responders, seconds save lives. We know as law enforcement we have to get in and intervene with that shooter as soon as possible," Peak said.
The weapon the shooter used was recovered at scene. It had no rounds left in it, authorities confirmed.
“We are ready to respond if we need to, and we certainly hope that we don’t have to,” Botkin said.