The suspect had not showed up for school, and then halfway through his first class on the second floor of the science building, he showed up armed with a shotgun at about 9 a.m. Police say he shot a 16-year-old student, who remains hospitalized in critical but stable condition.
The suspect then tried to shoot another student but missed. According to Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, he had numerous rounds in his pocket.
The teacher in the room, who was trying to evacuate the classroom of about two dozen students, began engaging the suspect in conversation. The sheriff said at one point, the shooter told the teacher, "I don't want to shoot you" and named the person he wanted to shoot. A campus supervisor also joined the conversation, and they were able to get the young man to put the shotgun down.
Police arrived and took the suspect into custody by 9:20 a.m. Police officials say the teacher's action saved many of the students.
According to the Kern County Sheriff's Department, officials then went room by room to secure the school. There were reportedly people who were still hiding in closets at the school.
The shotgun was recovered at the scene, a Kern County sheriff's spokesman said.
Authorities say witnesses saw suspect walking onto campus with a shotgun and called 911, which helped with fast police response. Youngblood said there is usually a Taft police officer at the school every day, but on Thursday, he was snowed in, could not make it.
School officials say there will be no school on Friday, but counselors will be available for students, parents and staff. School will be back in session Monday.
Taft is about 120 miles north of Los Angeles.