The Shootings and Siege at Lindhurst High School - as told by the Survivors
This page includes stories from the Survivors of the shootings and the hostage situation at Lindhurst High School on May 1, 1992. The first story is from one of the students taken hostage by Eric Houston in classroom C106. The second story is also from one of the students that was also held hostage for a time in classroom C106. To read her story, click here. A third Survivor's story is here. The fourth and fifth stories are from elementary school students and how the Lindhurst High School shootings affect them. To read those stories, click here. All five of these stories are used with permission from the Survivor. I hope these stories are helpful to the Survivors of Lindhurst, as well as my visitors. If any other Survivors of Lindhurst would like to be a part of this page, I welcome your input.
In July of 2004 I received an email from a Survivor of the Lindhurst High School shooting. This shooting dragged on into the night as Eric Houston held up to 70 students hostage in the school's drama room after opening fire. This Survivor and I talked about the movie Hostage High (released by TVA International Distribution Inc. in 2001) and how the movie imitated real life. This Survivor, Johnny Mills, sent me the following story and after doing some light editing he allowed me to post his story here.
The Hostage Taking of Lindhurst High School Classroom C106, May 1, 1992
as told by Johnny Mills
Yes, actually there was a lot of stuff that was kind of Hollywood about it (the movie, Hostage High). The building set up and the way the Rick Schroder was portraying Eric Houston. To be there and see it up close the way we did will never compare to any movie. The numbness, adrenalin, dizzy, confused and down right scariness of all the nightmares a little boy, or girl, can have on one plate was there. Everything was like slow motion but in real time. I know that I donít make a lot of sense but trust me, it was real.
Okay, I will tell you what really happened from my point of view. First off, if you call the Appeal-Democrat near my town (the number is 530-741-1123) you might be able to get news clippings of that day. My name is Johnny Mills and I was in R.O.T.C. at the time. Wayne B. was featured in the paper for saving lives (if you want to call it that on my part). Check on it, it will collaborate my story. The instructor of R.O.T.C. was Col. Bernard Stine and his assistant was, and still is, Sergeant Miller. They are still teaching at Lindhurst High School.
The building you see is a two story building where the classrooms on top and bottom are arranged in like a double-decker horse shoe shape half way surrounding the library thatís on the bottom floor. It started out in room C106. We had a gust speaker that day on Cal. Trans, a government agency that repairs roads controlled by the county. My friend and I were sitting in the third aisle far right row talking about a magazine he had when we heard a loud pop. It sounded like some one set off a fire cracker or someone was hitting the lockers outside the room. The room I was in, C106, was a drama room, you know stage and rows of chairs. It also had a balcony. All of the doors faced in to the hall, no other way out.
Anyway our teacher, I think his name was Mr. Macalif, but Iíll check on that, poked his head out the door to see what the ruckus was and immediately slammed the door shut and yelled, "Get down! Get down!" Now we all looked at him in shock and he said, "They are shooting! Get down!" I dove to the ground and crawled to the back of the right stage and huddled in the corner.
Meanwhile my friend Greg was calmly folding his magazine and walked to where I was at and in his usual manner laughed at my R.O.T.C. military commander for scooting across the floor as he called it (he was always the calm one, that helped me latter) when we heard about 3 more shots, louder and deeper in tone. I knew right then it was a 12-gauge shotgun, very distinctive pop or boom. I should say so, I started to look for ways to protect my self, like I found a hanger and made a not so useable stabbing instrument (yeah, I know, I was in a panic) when Greg grabbed me and said, "I donít wanna die." He smiled and kissed me on the shoulder. Being his normal, calm, jokingly self he reared me back to a well being calm, he called it the shock effect.
Mr. Macalif asked if some one would climb to the balcony and hold the doors shut so any one on the other side would think the room was locked. No one offered; so I asked Greg to come with me and he said he would. He lifted me up over the balcony and he could not get up so he went back to the stage. I looked to the other door and saw another classmate, Craig, was standing there holding the door. We talked about some things and we came up with the idea that if some one gets in we'll tell them that we were the only two there. Just then, little Mike climbed over the rail and pushed past Craig and opened the door. Craig shut the door and Mike started pounding and shouting, "Heís out here! Let me in, heís got a gun!" So Craig let him in and Mike dove over the rail into the chairs below. While he was doing that a knock was at the door and a scared little kids voice said he knows you are in there and if you donít open the door he is going to shoot me in the back. So we opened the door, AND THATíS WHEN MY DAY AT LINDHURST HELL REALLY BEGAN.
Craig went through first and I followed him. The gunman asked if we were the only ones in there and what happened to that kid. We said yes we were and he got out he then made us lift our shirts and turn in a circle to check for weapons and ushered us into the room he was in. (Now the room he was in is actually two classrooms partitioned into two rooms, one half is in the corner of the balcony and the other room is the one he was in the room had only three walls [picture a Hollywood set], continuing on nowÖ) He stood at the front right side of the room holding a black 12-gauge shotgun with an ammo sleeve with 12-gauge round in it on the butt of the rifle. He was wearing blue jeans, a tee-shirt with a camouflage hunting vest filled with enough rounds to shoot the entire town of Olivehurst and some 22 long shells were mixed in as well. He had a blue ball cap with kind of Navy fringe embroidered on the bill.
He told us to sit the f--k down and I did in the back far right corner of the room behind a small book rack that stood upright. He was pacing back and forth muttering to himself with the occasional groan for a minute or two, when out of nowhere he turned and asked if any of the 20 to 30 students wanted to know why he was there. No one moved or said anything. The gunman said, "I said ĎDo any one of you want to know why Iím f--king here?í" Again, no one said anything but a girl started to cry. He swung around and pointed the gun at us and chambered a round and started to ask us again.
I raised my hand and nervously asked, "Why are you doing this?"
He replied, "Get up!" So I did and he said, "Go to the other side of the room by yourself."
I did so and he said, "Why would you talk to me?"
"You asked a question and I thought I needed to know why you were here."
"Iím here because I wanted to scare that son of a bitch Brens! Can you believe he failed me by one lousy point! One point is all I needed to graduate and that communist bastard would not find it to give it to me! I lost every thing; the respect from my dad, my job, my girl and I spent a lot of money on the prom I canít get back. The tux, the limo and even the prom dress, lost it. I f--king lost it all and now he will know what itís like. What is your name?" I told him and he said, "Well, John, you are either a brave little shit or stupid. Which is it?"
"I donít know, but I think every one deserves a little respect."
His face changed to more of a calm look. "You just stay there and be a good little boy, ok son."
Then we heard some one laugh down stairs and the gunman yelled, "Get over here!" I guess he thought heíd found a straggler. When he realized it was a whole class of students, all 11 of them came up. One in particular was a girl I grew up with, her name was Judy Finger. We grew up as friends in Yuba City. Any how, she came in and saw me and literally jumped in my arms and was crying so hard she could not breathe. Her asthma was kicking in and she left her medication in the other room. After about two minutes it got worse and she kept saying she wanted to go home. A little before that the gunman had released a couple of pregnant girls so I thought, why not.
I raised my hand again and said, "Sir."
He spun around and yelled, "What?!"
I asked if Judy could go and told him if she didnít get her medication she could get really bad and possibly die. He reluctantly said yes and told her to get up she did and he said go.
She turned to me and said, "I wonít leave you."
"Go. Please go. Iíll be okay. Tell my mom and dad I love them very much. Please donít forget."
She answered, "No, please come with me."
"No, I canít just go. Damn it! Get the hell out of here."
She started to cry harder and started out of the room when the gunman pointed the gun at her and put his finger on the trigger. I thought I had killed her but then he said, "You better not say anything to the cops. You heard nothing, saw nothing, and know nothing. You got me?" She said yes and he looked at me and asked, "Who is she to you?"
"She's my cousin."
He said to her, "If you donít repeat what Iíve told you Iím going to kill him."
My heart sunk as she walked out of the room yelling, "I saw nothing, I know nothing!" over and over.
At one point she stopped saying it and he yelled out, "You donít love your cousin, do you?"
Then we heard "I SAW NOTHING, I HEARD NOTHING, I KNOW NOTHING" as loud as she could until the door outside shut.
He looked at me and said, "Youíre lucky she was able to breathe good enough so I could hear her."
He went about his pacing again. I guess when the door shut another class heard it and yelled, "Help heís been shot!" and the gunman changed completely. He looked like a little boy who knew he was going to get in trouble. He said, "Oh my god! I killed someone!" and was getting really nervous at this time.
I thought we were all going to die any way so I raised my hand again and said, "Sir, I know CPR and I can go see what is going on."
"Youíve done enough just shut up."
"If he dies, you will not get out of this and you will get murder on you, but if you let me help, you will be a hero."
Another boy in the room said, "Yeah, I heard of that kind of thing happens."
"You will also." Eric told me I had 5 minutes and to report every 1 1/2 minutes or heís going to kill the other boy.
I said, "Yeah, no problem," and went down stairs to the little drama room and went inside. The classroom was filled with kids they started to say something and I said, "Shhhhhhh! He is up there. Just stay quiet and you will be okay." I noticed a trail of blood, a small trail going behind a papier-m‚chť barn or something they were building and saw the teacher kneeling by a boy. She was holding his hand. The boy was lying on his back covered in blood. I ran over and asked what was wrong. The teacher was crying but reasonably calm.
She said, "He shot him. Just walk up and shot him. Help me please."
I told her to keep holding his hand and I looked at the boy and asked, "Whatís your name?"
"Sergio, and could you take me home?"
"Yes you are going home, but first, Iím John and Iím going to help you." I yelled up stairs to say that yes thereís a victim but I can save him, give me more time.
The gunman answered, "No! Hurry up!"
I continued to look at Sergio and found he had been shot in the left arm just above his elbow and it had broken his arm and the fact that his arm was bent and twisted helped determine that. I asked Sergio, "Where all do you hurt?"
I asked if that was it and he said, "Yes, can I go now?"
"In a minute. Whatís your favorite ice cream?" and it went on back and forth while I looked for something to make a tunicate with. I found a piece of plastic and a large yellow towel and I wrapped the plastic around his wound after straightening it. The plastic kind of stuck to the hole and then I wrapped the towel around and made a knot and twisted it tight till the blood stopped. I then said, "Iíll be back."
I went to the hall and the gunman said, "Your time is up. Get back here."
I told him the boy would slowly die if he didnít get to a hospital. I guess the blood all over my pants and shirt convinced him I wasnít lying and he said, "Take him to the door and push him out and get back because if you donít Iíll kill them all."
I went to the room and got help from my secret classmates and got him to the door. The door was out of sight of the gunman, by the way, and he let Sergio go home. The SWAT team was just outside and they tried to grab me but I jumped back and ran back to the room. (I thought of leaving but for some reason I just couldnít. I still donít know why, I just couldnít.)
I returned to the room where I was greeted by the gunman. "Did you see any cops?"
"Is he going to be okay?"
"Yes, heís getting help now. You did a good thing, thank you."
"No, thank you. Now get your ass to the balcony and watch for pigs."
So I did and he said, "By the way, if they try to shoot me you will get hit first," since I was right by him. So I stood by the railing on the balcony and I was watching for the cops when I looked down under the balcony because I heard a faint creak of wood. I saw a police officer standing there, crouched over looking at me. I froze and he pointed up and to his right and did the O.K. sign with his hand. I blinked at him. He pointed at me and tapped his back and slowly backed away. When I looked up the gunman was right there pointing his gun right in my face and asked, "What was you looking at?"
"You wouldnít lie to me would you?"
"DON'T CALL ME SIR! Call me Mike."
"Yes sirÖ uh, I mean Mike. Yes, Mike."
"No, just Mike. If you are lying about what you have seen Iím going to shoot you in the face. You know how Iíll know if you are lying?"
"With my lie detector. This gun will let me know if you are lying or not." He pointed it right at my nose and said, "If you are lying it will go bang and if your not you are a lucky son of a bitch." He cocked it back and stopped and glared at me. He said, "Go, sit down hero."
I went and sat down, right next to my ex-girlfriend, Jennifer.
Jennifer asked, "You okay?"
"Yeah, Iím a little nervous."
She touched my chest and looked at the blood. "Is he going to be okay?"
"I donít know. I donít know CPR."
She asked me what the hell I was doing. I said I was going to run but when I saw that boy, I couldnít. I had to help. She kissed me and said, "You are my hero."
"No, Iím a recovering cowered."
She laughed and said, "No, you are you are a real hero."
When Eric, the gunman, let some people go to the bathroom, some would go but not come back. He got mad and demanded a key to the bathroom where he can see them. (A faculty bathroom was right in front of where he can see the door.) The cops would not comply fast enough to the demand, so he shot a couple of times in to the library downstairs and all of a sudden a key magically slid into view.
Thatís when a kid he had sitting on the stairs said, "I know you, you are ERIC HOUSTON."
Eric said, "No, Iím Mike."
The kid said, "No, you went to school with my brother. You even came to my house."
Then Eric got mad and shot again and yelled, "Shut up!"
The police interrupted his outburst by yelling up, "Can we talk?"
"What do you want?"
Eric asked us, "Is any one hungry?" And every one said yes. Eric told us that he wasnít going to hurt anyone, he just wanted to prove a point and things got messed up.
Then the cops interrupted again and asked, "Do you need anything?"
"Yeah, I want pizza and charge it to that asshole Brens!"
"Let some of kids go and well do it. Fifteen kids for pizza and coke on us."
Eric said no at first but another student by the name of Erik pressed and said, "If you do let the little ones go Iíll stay and be with you."
Eric Houston said, "Count out 15 students and be fair, not all girls and when I tell you point them out and they can go." Then he sent another kid to another room to get a VCR and a television set so he could watch the news.
"The pizza is here," yelled the cop.
Eric said to Erik, "Show me the kids." And he did. Erik counted 14 kids and Eric told him to stop. The gunman pointed at me and said, "Go."
"No, let my girlfriend go. She is pregnant with my child." (A total lie, by the way.)
Eric said, "You, but you go too," as he pointed to both of us.
"No, send another girl."
"You can shut the hell up and go or stay and die!"
So I got up with Jenny, hand and hand and walked out.
I couldnít tell you what happened to the rest of the people in the room, but some how I still fell like I abandoned them. Well, that is a short version of what really happened to me. And what my experience was I thank God every day that that gun did not go off. I donít know where the strength came from to be so calm because after the gun hit my face, I started to cry and could not stop for a while. To this day, Iíll wake up in a cold sweat and live it over and over in my head. Lindhurst High School, May 1st, 1992. A day that will live forever within the spirits of my fallen brothersí and little sister.
In memory ofJason, Judy and Beamon. Thank you for the friendship and love of a fellow student.
Mr. Brens: You have been the light to everyone's tunnel. You open minds and show the way to perfection. I know now that in heaven you are still shinning a light on the kids of this world. Thank you for everything. We love and miss all of you - your friends, Lindhurst Student Body and Staff
R.I.P. May 1,1992
In early November of 2009, an army captain went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas. He killed 12 soldiers and one civilian. He was stopped by a female police officer who wounded him severely enough for him to stop shooting. The next day, I received an email from a Survivor of the Lindhurst High School shooting. This Survivor offered her story to be posted here.
The Hostage Taking of Lindhurst High School Classroom C106, May 1, 1992
as told by Nikki Watkins
After hearing about the shooting yesterday at Ft. Hood (where my brother-in-law is stationed - thank God he wasn't there), I decided to search for information about the shooting at Lindhurst High School and stumbled onto your site. First, I want to thank you for posting about it and I want to thank those that have allowed their stories to be shared.
I am writing to you, not as a casual reader, but as a survivor of that fateful day. And I want to share my story in hopes that it might help someone else.
Most of the day, that day, was business as usual. Going to class, doing the class work, etc. My last class of the day was Shakespeare taught by Mr. Robinson. The class was on the top floor of C Building in the right-hand corner (if you were looking up from the doors by the library). Mr. Robinson had decided to watch the news instead of our normal play reading and vocabulary work since the Rodney King riots were in full swing in Los Angeles. The last thing I remember on the TV was that truck driver being dragged out of his truck and beaten with a brick. Then we heard what sounded like someone dropping tables off the balcony (come to find out later it was rounds being fired from a shotgun). Mr. Robinson turned the TV off and stepped out on to the balcony. Within seconds, he was back inside the classroom shutting off the lights. "Get to the back of the classroom and on the floor..." I remember him saying. "He has a gun."
At first, it didn't register. Then more shots were fired... closer, this time. We all laid there for what seemed like hours. I'm still not sure how long we hid there. Then the gunfire stopped. Still we laid there, waiting. Hoping that the police would come in and help us. We heard the police on their PA's pleading with Eric to let us all go and give up. We heard helicopters circling the school. Still we waited. Eventually, a kid came by our classroom and flipped on the light. He told us that if we didn't come out of hiding, the gunman was going to start shooting everyone. He told us to all sit on the floor. We did. Somebody had mentioned something about going to the bathroom and Eric asked if any of us had to go. Timidly, I raised my hand along with a few others. He sent the first two down and told them that if they didn't return he would start shooting kids and that they had to return with their shirts up off their waist to make sure they didn't go to their lockers and get weapons of their own. Those two came back. He pointed at me and one other to have our turn at the privy and told us the same thing. I got to the landing on the stairs and had another gun in my face. This time it was a member of the local SWAT team who quickly grabbed me and practically threw me into another SWAT officer. They told me that I was going with them. I protested. I had several friends still up there and I didn't want them to get hurt. They dragged me from the building and into the lunch room where they were debriefing students as they came out. After the debriefing, they sent me and some other students to Yuba Gardens Middle School where I met up with my grandmother and aunt. After that, I went home and plastered myself to the TV to see if I could find out about my friends. Nothing. The news wasn't telling me anything except for the same crap they had, no doubt, been spewing since the beginning of the whole ordeal. I was worried and frustrated. I finally passed out from sheer exhaustion sometime in the wee hours of the morning.
I woke up the next day to some of my friends calling me to let me know they were alright and to tell me that Jason and Beamon had died and Wayne was critically wounded and in ICU at UC Davis (I think). During the next few weeks that school was closed, I hung out with my friends. We walked all over the place. We were walking by what's left of the Peach Tree Mall on a Sunday afternoon and I hear a shotgun again (it was a truck backfiring). I dove for cover and tried my damnedest to open the locked doors. My friends Wilson and Jack had to peel my hands off the door handle. I was shaking so bad that I couldn't stand, so they sat me down against the wall.
To this day, I don't know the extent of the mental trauma I went through. And I still have issues stemming from it to this day (Nov. 5, 2009). I get angry and don't know why. I have a bad tendency to seclude myself, and absorb myself on the Internet. I am scared to death something's going to happen to one of my kids while they are at school or daycare. Honestly, it's a wonder I'm not a drunk (guess it's good that I don't like to be drunk). Every day is a challenge for me. Have had people tell me I am depressed. If I am, I'm in denial.
But I refuse to quit. I refuse to give up. I am determined to live life to the fullest that I can.
You kinda have to be that way. Get stubborn, dig your heels in and never give up.
A Story about Wayne Boggess, a Hero
On the stories survivors posted about the shooting at Lindhurst High School, I just wanted to add something none of the rest did. Almost only the people that died that were mentioned. I feel the injured survivors are just as important. There is hero that day that has not even mentioned. Eric Houston also shot another student, Wayne Boggess in the head for the same reason Beamon was shot. Wayne had thrown himself in front of a female student saving her life taking a shot in the head close up. Wayne, only as we can describe a miracle, survived. Little does one know surviving from that changed this kid with courage to put himself in front of another. I see him as a Hero. I believe Beamon was a hero as well but why is he the only one noticed just cause he didn't make it a Wayne did, doesn't make him any less of a hero. To be honest maybe Wayne was the unlucky one that day. Surviving is not living when youíre completely gone from world. There truly isn't a person in Wayne and never will be due to the brain injuries he suffered. He may have turned him into a worse person then the man he courageously faced yet shot him taking Wayne away from himself. Someone like that is one of the important ones to mention. Wayne Boggess is a hero beyond any definition of the word hero. And out of his act of courage he was punished in a way miraculously surviving when he really shouldn't of he shouldn't have been able to make from being shot in the head the same Beamon. Yet taking Beamonís life and not Wayne's. Living in torture a complete hell of his own. So if you please post my added information I would be greatly appreciative. All heroes, the real one, are all important especially ones that are set free by our Heavenly Father to our long waited reward of eternal life. Not all heroesí get to have eternal life when they deserve it. Thank you very much. Michelle Inman
In October of 2007 I received an email from a Survivor of the Lindhurst School Shooting. Event though she was a student of Johnson Park Elementary School and not directly involved with the events at Lindhurst, the events and reaction to those events qualify her as a Survivor in my book. She allowed me to post her story here.
Lindhurst High School Shootings as recalled by J from Johnson Park Elementary School
I was a student at Johnson Park Elementary School, directly next door to Lindhurst High School. My school was having campus clean up the day Eric Houston went on his shooting spree. Two friends and I were at the fence passage between the two schools, when we heard the gunshots. They were deafening. When we realized what was happening, we hit the ground, not sure what to do next. We lay there, listening to shot after shot, for about 45 minutes, when one of the teachers realized we were not with our class. She ran out across the field, and helped us inside. We lay on the floor for what seemed like hours, waiting, and listening. Only after we were escorted out of class, and sent to the front of the school, and then home, did I realize what I had experienced. I understood, at a very young age, that with the loud, nauseating blast of a gun, I was hearing another person's life being taken. I still remember that sound, like it was only five minutes ago. That day, I was sent to my grandfather's house after being released from school. He was neighbors with Judy Davis' parents, and close friends with her entire family and Beamon Hill's family. That evening, when Judy's parent's came home after finding out their daughter had died, I heard her mother weeping from next door. The pain in her voice seemed to carry from her house over to me. I had realized at a very early age that, we lived in a world where the young and innocent are no safer and have no longer a life expectancy than the old or evil.As for my two friends who were with me that day, one of them is nowhere to be found as of her 18th birthday, and the other committed suicide after her brother was killed in a drunk driving accident about 5 years later. As for me, I am doing fine. I have been in therapy for post traumatic distress since Lindhurst, though the worst symptom did not effect me until I became a mother, actually. I am married with a teenage step-son who is now in high school, and my biggest fear is that I may someday be the woman next door grieving and screaming. The thought has never left my mind, and it never will. I shared with my son the experience I had at Lindhurst, and he is very aware of the dangers other people, including other kids, can pose. It is sad that he lives with that sliver of fear everyday, but at least he is aware, and knows to act immediately if he ever hears that something like this may happen at his school. Thank you again for listening. I have only talked to my husband, son, and therapist about this, and I feel like it may be time to let the world know. Maybe it will help others.
Well, I just wanted to share my experience of Lindhurst High School with you, and to tell you that I appreciate that you put in the effort to get the story from those involved. I think that mine, along with many others', should be heard. When we share these things with others, it helps those who go through similar things to know that they are not the only ones, and that life continues, even after tragedy. Thank you, J
Lindhurst High School Shootings as recalled by M from Linda Elementary School
I can recall the shooting at Lindhurst High School on May 1, 1992 as if it was yesterday. I was a 5th grader at Linda Elementary School and I remembered the school bell ringing indicating class was over for the day. My sisters and I waited for each other in front of the school where we would all walk to line up for the bus. We started to board the school bus to go home, when I saw our Principal, Ms. Sanchez (I believe that was her name) and staffs run all over the campus. A school staff came onto our bus and calmly told everyone to get up, get into a single file line and we were walked into a classroom. I remember this day to be the strangest ever. She closed the curtains, locked the door, and turned off the lights. She asked everyone to sit still and sit quietly. We were confused and I started to sense something bad, not knowing what it was. All of a sudden, the intercom went on, and it was the Principal. "Something happened and I need everyone to stay calm until their parents picked them up." Unsure of what was going on, I started to pray. I admit, I started to shake. All I knew was, my mom had come to get us.
I was relieved to see my dad in the car waiting and that's when everything came out. My dad said, "A shooting happened at Lindhurst High School." I knew some people who were going to school there, as I knew the younger siblings. I recall this day to be horrific. All I remembered that evening was our television was turned on to the news channel all night. Our pastor's daughter was at that school and we were all sitting calmly as my parents waited for a phone call that she was out and okay. Although I did not experience the fear of being held captive at gunpoint, I know that this experience has played a toll on me. I am now 28 and graduated from Lindhurst High School as the Class of 2000. I remembered that as a student at this high school, I can see how the teachers, who were there during the shooting, react to any loud noise. It is a traumatizing experience and it not only affects those who were there, but those who lived in the town as well. I remembered crying myself to sleep and shaking all night long on May 1, 1992. May all the souls rest in peace.
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