On Thursday, November 14, Nathaniel Tennosuke Berhow, 16, opened fire at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, CA killing two students before turning the gun on himself. The local shooting shook the community to the core leaving many asking, “Why our students? Why our children?”
The shooting is under investigation by law enforcement officials however, as of press time, the motive of the shooter is unknown.
Recently, the Los Angeles Sentinel spoke with Rosie Sanders, the paternal grandmother of Saugus High School student Dominic Blackwell, about the passing of her grandson.
“[Dominic] was very strong and willful, he took a lot after his father. We never thought anything like this would happen but we don’t have that decision to make. We put him in the best schools, watched who he socialized with and made sure he was earnest and compassionate,” said Sanders.
“This is a great loss, a tremendous loss. I never thought something like this would happen.”
Blackwell was a member of the ROTC, a football player, and loved swimming.
The 14-year-old leaves behind his father, Frank Blackwell, an U.S. Army veteran; his mother Nancy Blackwell and three younger brothers.
“My grandson was a straight A student who liked to draw. [Dominic] was very agile and full of joy and life. He was so helpful and treated people with respect,” said Sanders.
During the interview, the Sentinel asked Sanders, how can schools prevent and address gun violence?
“Maybe schools need a metal detector. They need to do background checks on the parents [of the students]. Also, students need a pastor, mentor, or favorite teacher that they can talk to when they are angry and it would be confidential, she said.
“Even if [students] don’t want to go to office, there should be a suggestion box for the children so they can request who they want. That would have saved my grandson’s life.”
Sanders goes on to say that the world is a broken place and people need to turn to the Lord for direction.
“Some people don’t believe in God or they may be thinking what can God do? This world is so full of animosity but there has to be a way for people to have someone to reach out to, that would save so many lives,” she said.
Since the shooting, political leaders have demanded the need for gun control and discussed potential solutions to the national issue.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who is a member of the Congressional Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, released the following statement:
“Our schools, which should be safe havens for children, educators, and members of the community, are becoming the backdrops of some of the most violent shootings in our nation’s history. No students, educators, or parents should be subjected to such terror. This is not only deeply disturbing, it’s a national disgrace.”
The Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security chair, Congresswoman Karen Bass, along with her colleague, House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler, also gave their condolences to the victims’ families and discussed gun violence.
“With the tragic shooting today at Saugus High School, the nation mourns yet another senseless act of violence, heartbreaking loss of life and horrific attack on students simply trying to get their education. There is no single measure that would prevent every act of gun violence, but we know that taking basic steps can make us safer,” said Bass and Nadler in a statement.
Waters, Bass, and Nadler mentioned the passing of the Bipartisan Background Check Act and the Enhanced Background Checks Act to provide gun control measures to help battle senseless shootings and gun violence in America.
On Sunday, Nov. 24, more than 700 people attended Blackwell’s memorial service at the Hyatt Regency in Valencia. During this time, the teen’s family and friends gave their remarks.
“He was his Aunt Angie’s ‘little goober.’ He was his mom’s ‘little peanut.’ He was a kid with an infectious laugh, a kind smile, and a big heart” said Blackwell’s grandfather, Gene Hall in a statement.
Shortly after the killing of Blackwell, Hall and Pam Moore-Hall launched a GoFundMe for Blackwell. To date, the family has raised $108,455 of its $1,000 goal. According to the page, all donations will be given to Blackwell’s mother and father and placed into the teen’s personal bank account.
“Now we celebrate the life that [Dominic] had. Right now, it may be difficult because all I can think about is my son and his family” said Sanders.
As faculty, students, and community members continue to mourn the loss of Blackwell and Gracie Anne Muehlberger, 15, Saugus High School and other schools in the William S. Hart Union School District remain closed.
The campus is scheduled to reopen on December 2 and will provide grief counseling to students and faculty.
For more information on Blackwell’s GoFundMe Page or to make a donation to the family, please visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/dominic-michael-blackwell.