Hero Teacher Talks Down 16-Year-Old Shooter & Prevents Potential Massacre

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A 16-year-old boy shot and wounded a classmate at Taft High School Thursday, before being stopped by a heroic teacher. He shot the victim for perceived bullying, and fired two more rounds before coming face to face with popular teacher Ryan Heber. Heber tried to coax him into handing over the gun while the 28 students in his first period science class escaped.

The boy allegedly told the teacher, “I don’t want to shoot you,” and eventually handed over his weapon to him and campus supervisor Kim Lee Fields. The victim was in critical but stable condition at a local hospital on Thursday night.

The name of the shooter has not been released to the public due to his age, but authorities say he will be tried for attempted murder, and the district attorney will decide whether or not to try him as an adult. It is believed that he obtained the gun from his older brother.

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said of Heber, "This teacher and this counselor stood there face-to-face not knowing if he was going to shoot them ... they probably expected the worst and hoped for the best, but they gave the students a chance to escape."

Ryan Heber seems to be one of those special teachers -- not only for his actions here, but also for his apparent love for his students, which allowed him to connect with this would-be assassin. His father David, who also lives in the small town outside of Bakersfield, described his son as a “teacher who knows every single one of his students and not just by name.” He also mentioned that Ryan has been teaching science for seven or eight years at Taft, the same high school he was the student body president of some two decades ago.

This teacher obviously has a passion for his community and especially his students. It’s the kind of person that would pour energy and attention into each student, and get to know them beyond their names, that would stand up to the teen shooter instead of trying to escape out the back window himself. It’s because of that caring that he was able to get the kid to stop and hand over his weapon.

I know this won’t always be the case -- look at the Vickie Soto, the brave teacher in Sandy Hook that lost her life trying to protect her students -- but it’s a start. We can go on all day blaming guns, mental illness, lack of security, or any other number of things for these tragedies, but when it comes down to it, they are crimes committed by people. The best way to start reaching them is to try and connect with them.

Ryan Heber was a hero on Thursday when he protected his students from the shooter, but he’s also a hero every day he goes to work and tries to be the best teacher he can be. Bravo, good sir.


Image via Kevin Krejci/Flickr

crime, education, guns, in the news, law


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the4m... the4mutts

The shooters name WAS released. Even if it wasn't supposed to be, our local news did release it. His name is

the4m... the4mutts

I was glad to hear that the teacher talked the student down, and that more people weren't harmed. One thing though:

The shooters name WAS released. Even if it wasn't supposed to be, our local news did release it, probably with parental permission (I assume anyway). His name is Bryan Oliver.

And I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Thank you for sticking with facts, keeping a level head, and not being inflamatory. This was a good read.

nonmember avatar Honest

I will get a lot of shit for this but I feel badly for the shooter more so than the boy who was shot. I'm NOT saying the child deserved to be shot! I'm just acknowledging that for this boy to be so hurt and emotionally broken by bullying to do something so drastic... Well I believe none of us would want to be him going home a little more broken every night. The boy bullying him deserved discipline. I bet he will bully just the same when he is back in school. Sad.

nonmember avatar Honest

If you click on the first link and read the article it states this teacher was a favorite and "he knew all the students on campas and not just by name.". I think the comment that article is right on, where was the hero when the kid was being bullied to this severity?

Autum... Autumnleaves87

The NRA wants to have police officers in schools.......yet an unarmed teacher talked a student into surrendering his gun.

Besides being one heck of a hero, that teacher just might have some advice for the NRA.

"Teachers without guns don't kill people.......people with guns kill people"

the4m... the4mutts

And had their ARMED GUARD/Campus Officer (can't recall which) been a work that day (he was snowed in) chances are higher that NOBODY would have been shot.

Armed guard can't make it that day, and that's the day the kid brings a gun to school. That is not a coinsidence. He didn't bring it in until school had been in session for at least an hr. Plenty of time to find out if the guard was there or not.

And this kid wasn't some raging psycho, he was a tortured teen that chose the wrong path. He had intended targets. He didn't WANT to hurt the teacher to begin with. This isn't Adam Lanza where he was going to kill everyone no matter what. This is an entirely seperate and different set of circumstance.

No teacher could talk down some nut job intent on killing everyone in sight.

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