On May 1, 1992, 20-year-old Eric Houston, a former student, entered Lindhurst High School in Olivehurst, California. There, he killed three students and one teacher and wounded nine others with a 12-gauge shotgun and sawed-off .22-cal-iber rifle, before surrendering to police.
The day before his attack, Houston had called the principal at Lindhurst High, threatening to shoot up the pep rally that was to be held on May 1. The principal cancelled the rally. Houston came to the school at the end of the day and, upon entering the building, first shot his former Civics teacher, Robert Brens. He went on to kill 17-year-old Judy Davis, a student in Brens’ class. Houston then walked outside the classroom and shot and killed Jason Edward White. He pointed his gun at a female student, but a classmate pushed her aside and took the shotgun blast to his head. Houston next went to a classroom containing 25 to 30 students and commanded a student to recruit more hostages so that the room ended up housing more than 80 people. He kept those students hostage for more than eight hours before he surrendered to the police.
Houston told the police that he was angry that he had failed to graduate from high school and had recently lost his job. He said he targeted Robert Brens because he had failed his Civics class. Houston was found guilty of first-degree murder on September 21, 1994, and is housed at San Quentin State Prison awaiting execution.
Lindhurst staff say that the incident is still what the school is known for, and they generally dislike media coming to the school to interview them after every high-profile school shooting. A film was made in 1997 that loosely follows the case. Detention: The Siege at Johnson High stars Freddy Prinze, Jr., as a student in the school and Rick Schroeder as the gunman who takes the school hostage after having flunked out. Some students at Lindhurst High School complained that the film makes it look like Robert Brens purposely failed Houston so that he would not graduate. They also complained that the assailant in the movie was named Jason, and that one of Houston’s victims was Jason White.
- Detention: The Siege at Johnson High: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118969/reviews
- Mann, K. (2007, April 16). School shooting turns unwanted attention to Lindhurst. Appeal-Democrat. Retrieved May 2, 2010, from http://www.appeal-democrat.com/news/school-47104-shooting-eckardt.html
- The shootings and siege at Lindhurst High School as told by the survivors. (n.d.). Retrieved May 2, 2010, from http://www.columbine-angels.com/lindhurst_story.htm