Calif. Deputy Recalls 2001 School Shooting

SANTEE, Calif. --

Nearly 10 years after a 15-year-old student opened fire at a Santee high school, the sheriff's deputy who disarmed the shooter spoke out for the first time only to 10News about the shooting.

Many remember the images from March 5, 2001 of ambulances, SWAT members moving from classroom to classroom, terrified teenagers and frantic parents.

Former San Diego County Sheriff's deputy Jack Smith was working a traffic stop two and a half blocks away from Santana High School when the first call went out that shots were fired.

"Well, in my mind, when I pulled up there and I heard shots going off, the only thing I could think of was going in there and suppressing that... [and] getting between whoever's shooting and the students," said Smith.

10News also spoke with San Diego police Sgt. Robert Clark. The off-duty officer was at Santana that day to register his daughter for class when a teacher told him shots had been fired.

"It was a surreal scene," said Clark. "I never saw chaos and pandemonium. I never saw students screaming hysterically off-campus or screaming and yelling."

What Clark said he did see was one person who'd been shot and the boys' bathroom where 15-year-old gunman Andy Williams was reloading. At this point, Smith arrived on the scene.

"We kind of made a quick plan of what we were going to do… that plan was to go around the corner and confront whoever was shooting," said Smith.

By then, a second deputy arrived and all three went inside the bathroom and ordered Williams to drop his gun. Smith went in first.

"There was a young man and he was holding onto a revolver," said Smith. "I think I kind of startled him and when I ordered him to drop the weapon, he did so immediately and that turned out to be Andy Williams."

Smith handcuffed Williams, who now is serving a 50-year prison sentence without the possibility for parole.

"He appeared very calm and very cold," he said.

14-year-old Bryan Zuckor and 17-year-old Randy Gordon died at the hands of Williams. Thirteen students were also injured. Smith earned the sheriff's Medal of Valor for his actions but said he would return it in a minute if it meant those two teens could live.

"Would you do it again?" asked 10News reporter Allison Ash.

"Oh absolutely, absolutely… without hesitation," said Smith.

Every March 5, Smith said he looks back on the day that changed him and so many others.

"I say a prayer for the two boys and their families, and I'm sad about the loss but happy that no one else was hurt," said Smith.

Smith now works in the Department of Homeland Security and is based out of Washington, DC.

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