Teacher hailed as hero in Calif. school shooting

Ryan Heber
In this photo provided by the Heber family, Ryan Heber, center, is seen with his nephew and son.
Personal photo

(CBS News) Police say a 16-year-old student in Taft, Calif., planned a shotgun attack on his high school classmates. The alleged shooter critically wounded one student on Thursday before eventually surrendering. Witnesses say he had been harassed at school. Now, a teacher is getting credit for preventing a potential disaster.

When students at Taft High School were finally released from a campus lockdown, they quickly learned how close the school had come to catastrophe.

Sheriff: High school gunman felt he'd been bullied

Anna Lise, a sophomore at the school, said, "Over the intercom, they were like 'Lockdown! This is not a drill! This is not a drill!' ... So everyone was piling on top of each other and hiding in the corners."

As first period class was starting, the 16-year-old suspect was spotted leaving his home with his brother's shotgun.

Taft, Calif., Sheriff Donny Youngblood said, "We believe that he picked up the 12-gauge shotgun and walked into school armed with shotgun, and one of the neighbors we believe called 911 to report that."

While police raced to the school, the gunman went into a science class. Student Morgan Alldredge said, "After he walked in he pumped the gun, it was a pump action rifle. He pumped it, he just lifted it up right away and shot."

One student in the class, Bowe Cleveland was hit, and the gunman fired at another student, but missed.

Witness Casey Masoney said, "The guy that got shot, I was holding him and actually got blood on my sweatshirt."

At one point, the suspect told the class who he was looking for. Alldredge said, "The kid popped up from where he was hiding and said, 'I'm sorry I'm sorry.' And he just kept saying, 'I'm sorry.' And [the gunman] eventually eased up just a little bit."

Teacher Ryan Heber and a staff member talked the shooter into surrendering the gun as his class escaped out the back. Heber didn't want to talk to the media, but he sent a message to his parents right after the shooting.

David Heber, the teacher's father said, "He text my wife and says, 'I'm OK, a student came in my classroom and shot another student'."

David Heber is not surprised that authorities are praising his son as a hero. He said, "(Ryan is) kust totally involved in everything at school and church. He goes to church every Sunday. He's just a good young man."

Ryan Heber's brother also released this statement: "Ryan was able to save many lives today due primarily to his dedication to showing kindness and respect towards the students that he teaches. It was this personal relationship with his students that enabled Ryan to talk the shooter into not continuing with his plan to harm additional students. Without this mutual respect, this incident would have undoubtedly ended far more tragic than it did. I'm extremely proud of Ryan for the courage he showed today in the face of unimaginable circumstances."

Police say the suspect targeted students who he felt had bullied him for more than a year. Students told CBS News the gunman got in trouble at school last year for having a list of students he wanted to harm.

Asked if she was surprised to find out who the alleged shooter was, Anna Lise said, "Ah no, not at all, because he had a hit list last year. They shouldn't have let him back in the school."

While the school does have a full-time police officer on campus, he was stuck at home, snowed in. Police say it was the science teacher who changed the equation with some quick thinking in the classroom.

Watch Carter Evans' full report in the video above.