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Taft shooter identified, charged as adult, ominous warnings downplayed

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 14th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The young man who critically wounded another student in a shooting at Taft Union High School has been identified at 16-year-old Bryan Oliver. The Kern County District Attorney has announced that Oliver will be tried as an adult. His victim has also been identified.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Bryan Oliver was clearly a troubled teen. Reports say he was smaller than most kids his age and he endured teasing and bullying to the point he began to crack under the strain during his freshman year.

Friends of Oliver say he was called a "ginger" for having red hair, and told that "gingers have no souls." This teasing may have been what triggered his singular act of violence that left one student in critical condition.

Fellow students and parents complained on Twitter that Oliver had compiled a hit list of students he would target if he went on a shooting rampage. That list was discovered by school officials last year and Oliver was disciplined with a 5-day suspension, but then permitted to return to school where he was undoubtedly subjected to further bullying.

Other students even claimed that Oliver checked out a book on how to commit a murder, although the book, if it exists, has not been identified.

Last month, weeks before the shooting, students at the school raised another alarm, one that was apparently dismissed by school officials. According to Twitter posts made by students in December, Oliver threatened "to shoot up the school."

One person tweeted "And he always talks about murder like he's obsessed with it."

To be clear, much of this new information has been aggregated from Twitter sources, so it comes with a caveat, but several independent tweets exist, reflecting the same information. Taken together, there is little doubt as to the veracity of the claims.

Speaking in official capacity, authorities have thus far refused to confirm much of this information.

Today Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green did refer to Bryan Oliver by name and announced that he would be charged as an adult with two counts of attempted murder and three counts of assault with a firearm.

Meanwhile Oliver's victim remains in critical condition in the hospital, however doctors are describing him as "very lucky" and say they expect him to survive.

The victim has been identified on Twitter as 16-year-old Bowe Cleveland, a well-liked basketball player. Despite his popularity among other students, authorities say that Oliver felt he was being bullied by Cleveland. Those claims have not been substantiated.

In one particularly worrisome tweet, a fellow student said, "yeah he told Bowe that he watched 5 serial killer movies and thought of Bowie the whole time. [Expletive.] Creepy."

Student's Twitter feeds even suggest they were called into the office for questioning about their ominous tweets even before the shooting took place. "Maybe Angelo should've taken me more serious when I got called in because of mine and @b--'s tweets." The name Angelo refers to the school's assistant principal, Rona Angelo.

Another student was not so easy on the administrator tweeting, Bryan Oiliver's [sic] a [expletives redacted]. So is Angelo. How many times did I call this out? HOW MANY TIMES [expletive].

The fact that school officials may have had warning does not bode well for the administration which appears as though it could become the subject of civil action in the incident.

As for Oliver, he will likely face a very long prison term of at least 25 years, despite his age. Having acted out because of bullying, he now faces long years in prison -- where professional bullies live.

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