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Eric Christopher HOUSTON






The Lindhurst High School shooting
Classification: Spree killer
Characteristics: School shooting - In retribution for a failing grade
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: May 1, 1992
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1972
Victims profile: Teacher Robert Brens, 28, and students Beamon A. Hill, 16, Judy Davis, 17, and Jason Edward White, 19
Method of murder: Shooting (12-gauge pump-action shotgun and a sawed off .22 caliber rifle)
Location: Olivehurst, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on September 17, 1993

On May 1, 1992, Eric Houston, 20, killed four people and wounded 10 in an armed siege at his former high school en Olivehust, California.

Prosecutors said the attack was in retribution for a failing grade. Houston was convicted and was given a death sentence.


The Lindhurst High School shooting was a school shooting that occurred on May 1, 1992 at Lindhurst High School in Olivehurst, California, United States. The gunman, 20-year-old Eric Houston, was a former student at Lindhurst High School. Houston killed three students and one teacher, and wounded nine others before Houston surrendered to police.

On April 30, 1992 Eric Houston phoned the principal of Lindhurst High School, threatening to "shoot up a school rally" to be held on the following day. The pep rally was cancelled.

Eric nonetheless arrived on the school campus the following day, armed with a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun and a sawed off .22 caliber rifle around 2:40 p.m. As he entered the school, he fatally shot teacher Robert Brens, his Civics teacher during his senior year. He then shot and killed Judy Davis, a 17-year-old student inside Brens' classroom. Houston then walked through the hallway outside the classroom and fatally shot student Jason Edward White in the chest. Further on Houston pointed his shotgun at a female student, but before he could fire his weapon another student, Beamon A. Hill, pushed her aside and took the shotgun blast to the side of his head.

Houston then entered a classroom with about 25 to 30 students inside. According to reports, Houston would send a student to retrieve more hostages, and eventually held over 80 students hostage. He engaged in an eight-hour standoff with police before surrendering to authorities.

While in police custody, Eric Houston stated that he was despondent over losing his job and was angered that he failed to graduate from high school or obtain a GED. He also confessed to holding a grudge against his former Civics teacher Robert Brens, who failed Houston in his class. On September 21, 1993 Houston was found guilty on all charges against him, and was sentenced to death. He is currently held at San Quentin State Prison awaiting his sentence.

A memorial park was erected on McGowan Parkway in Olivehurst, California in remembrance of those the four people who died that day, as reported to this editor by a local resident who was friends with Jason White at the time of the shooting.


Lindhurst High School, Olivehurst, California

Friday, May 1, 1992

Unhappy with the treatment he received while at Lindhurst, alumnus (drop-out), Eric C. Houston, 20, called his former school with a threat to shoot up a school rally to be held at the end of the day. 

The rally was cancelled, possibly due to the fact that so many students were already away from the campus at other school functions, but students weren't told anything about it. 

Eric returned to his former school and entered Building C with a 12-gauge shotgun and a sawed off .22 rifle around 2 p.m.  He shoots teacher Robert Brens, who flunked him in Civics in 1989, and then Judy Davis, a current student of Mr. Brens. 

Eric moves down the hall and shoots Jason E. White in the chest.  Jason was charging Eric at the time in a heroic, but unfortunately futile, effort to end the bloodshed.  Eric continued his rampage shooting at anything he could think of as a target.  At one point, Eric pointed his shotgun at a female student, but before he could pull the trigger, Beamon A. Hill pushes her aside and took the shotgun blast to the side of his head.  A very brave and heroic act on Beamon's part. 

Eric continues his attack by taking 70 students hostage for 8 1/2 hours before giving up to authorities. He wounded nine other students and one adult. Mr. Brens hummed quietly to himself as he bled to death.  Beamon died instantly while Jason slowly bled to death. Wayne Bogus was one of the most severely injured students, with a shotgun blast at point blank range, but he defied the odds and made a remarkable recovery. 

The movie Hostage High starring Rick Schroder and Freddie Prinze, Jr. is based on this event.


Robert Brens
Judy Davis
Beamon A. Hill
Jason E. White


School Gunman Surrenders -- 4 Killed in 10-Hour Ordeal

The San Francisco Chronicle

Robert B. Gunnison, Ken Hoover, Chronicle Staff Writers

May 2, 1992

Olivehurst, Yuba County

A distraught former student in military camouflage with bandoliers across his chest walked onto a high school campus yesterday afternoon and opened fire with a shotgun, killing three students and a teacher and wounding as many as 10 people before surrendering 10 hours later, authorities said.

The gunman, identified as Eric Christopher Houston, 20, who last attended Lindhurst High in 1989 but did not graduate, took more than 80 students hostage in a school building.

He finally surrendered to sheriff's deputies at 10:28 p.m., as whoops of joy and tears of relief swept through a nearby elementary school where parents waited for word of children held hostage.

Student hostages said afterward that Houston, frustrated by a breakup with his girlfriend and being laid off from his job, took out his anger by killing a history teacher he said had flunked him.

Authorities said that a male teacher, one girl and two boys were killed during an initial burst of gunfire when Houston walked onto the campus around 2 p.m., moving from classroom to classroom.

"There was mass hysteria when the shooting started,'' said Sheriff Gary Tindel.

Names of the dead were being withheld pending notification of family.

Principal Ronald Ward and other officials emphatically denied that the shootings had a racial motivation or any connection to protests about the Rodney King verdict.

"He came in, he smiled, and he shot. Then he walked away,'' said Amy Shumate, 16, a freshman who watched as the gunman shot one of her fellow students in teacher Robert Ledford's world studies class. "He looked like he just got out of Desert Storm.''

``His face was painted camouflage, like green and black,'' said Chris Ray, 17, who was playing softball when he noticed the intruder enter the campus. ``He had everything Army on, boots, a bulletproof vest.''

Jennifer Thompson, a sophomore in another class, said she heard shots in bursts.

"Bang, bang, bang. Silence, then again,'' she said, adding that her teacher first thought it was firecrackers. Then students slid under their desks as they had been trained to do.

"He alternated between being friendly and hostile,'' said Eddie Hicks, 16, a hostage. First, he was talking and laughing, then he said he was going to shoot us.''

During a tense standoff, Houston held scores of federal, state and local law enforcement personnel at bay during a horrifying night in the normally placid town of 10,000 people 40 miles north of Sacramento.

8 at hospital

Rideout Memorial Hospital in nearby Marysville reported admitting eight gunshot victims, including three high school boys, four high school girls and a 61-year-old male teacher.

A nursing supervisor said one 16-year-old boy was in critical condition with wounds to his head, chest and abdomen. One girl was reported to have suffered a serious arm injury, and another girl was shot in both knees. Others suffered lesser wounds, the nurse said.

Most of the 1,200 students were taken to Yuba Gardens School, just across Highway 70, where they were counseled and reunited with relieved parents.

"We just left the school, just went to anyone's house, even someone we didn't know and called our parents,'' said freshman Shumate.

A. C. Colston, an 18-year-old senior, said he was playing softball when he saw a friend running toward his physical education class, yelling for everyone to come inside.

"He's a kidder, so I really didn't believe him,'' said Colston, who waited at the hospital for word on the condition of wounded friends.

Just before 5 p.m., three hours after sheriff's deputies received the initial report, authorities established telephone contact with Houston, whom they described as generally rational but given to emotional swings.

"He's riding a crest up and down,'' said Captain Dennis Moore of the Yuba County Sheriff's Department during the early evening. "Sometimes he's calm. Sometimes he's more assertive.''

According to Moore, the gunman had expressed unhappiness with the treatment he had received when he attended the school. "He wants the opportunity to express how badly he was treated as a student.''

Deputies complied with his demands for pizza and soft drinks, and the gunman then released 10 student hostages.

That was followed several hours later by the release of 27 more.

TV coverage curtailed

Local radio and television stations were asked to curtail live broadcasts of the hostage drama because the gunman had access to cable television and radio inside the building in which he had pulled drapes, so officers surrounding him could not see in.

Although the televised images revealed it, broadcasters sought to cover up an instance at 6 p.m. in which 16 students and a teacher ran to safety. They had been hiding in the building, apparently unknown to the intruder.


Jury urges death for Houston

Sacramento Bee

Kathy Lachenauer Bee Staff Writer

August 17, 1993

A jury Monday recommended death for convicted killer Eric Houston, prompting a gasp of relief from families of the dead who held hands in the courtroom.

Houston, the 22-year-old who fatally gunned down his former high school teacher and three students in Yuba County last year, sat silently with a blank expression on his face as the verdict was read.

No one from Houston's family was in the courtroom when the verdict was announced shortly after 11 a.m.

Superior Court Judge W. Scott Snowden set sentencing for Sept. 17, when he will decide whether to uphold the jury's recommendation - or reduce Houston's sentence to life in prison without possibility of parole.

The seven men and five women of the jury spent about nine hours deliberating Houston's penalty. Jurors exited hastily out the back door of the courthouse.

"This has been very emotional," said one juror as she walked briskly down the street, declining to give her name. "We need our privacy."

Another juror, who also asked that his name not be used, said the panel agreed on the first day of deliberations that no one would discuss the trial with the media once it was over.

The same jury on July 22 found Houston guilty of murdering four people and attempting to murder 10 others at Lindhurst High School in Olivehurst. The jury also found him guilty of holding 85 students hostage during his eight-hour siege on May 1, 1992.

Killed in the rampage were teacher Robert Brens, 28, and students Beamon Hill, 16, Judy Davis, 17, and Jason White, 19.

Kelly Brens, the sister of the slain teacher who was in court nearly every day of the two-month trial, had mixed feelings Monday. Although she said Houston "deserved" the death verdict, she said the killer's penalty won't bring her brother back.

Mitchell Brens, the father of Robert Brens, wept outside the courthouse as he spoke of his dead son.

"The agony, the blood, the grief - it has been like a never-ending nightmare," he said.

During the trial, Houston testified that Robert Brens had sexually molested him at the school. The prosecution argued that the allegation was a lie and uncorroborated, although some medical experts testified they did not believe Houston was lying.

Mitchell Brens said he did not want to respond to the charges during the trial because he did not want to "dignify" the allegations.

"They tried to put our son on trial," he said. The jury's verdict "shows" that the allegations were unfounded, he added.

Mary Stickle, who also lost a son the day Houston shot up Lindhurst with a pump-action shotgun, embraced her son, Jeremy, 13, outside the courthouse.

"(Houston) did not give our kids a chance to do any living," she said, explaining why she wanted a death verdict in the slaying of son Jason White. She said she planned to be at San Quentin when, and if, Houston is executed.

Death sentences are automatically appealed to the California Supreme Court.

Joe Ann Hill, the mother of Beamon Hill, hugged reporters outside the courthouse.

"My children, my mother and all my family believe he should die," she said.

Defense attorney Jeff Braccia of the Yuba County Public Defender's Office said his client's lack of expression when faced with a death verdict shows that the killer has mental problems. Braccia said his client's only request was for Braccia to call Houston's mother and inform her of the death verdict.


Eric Christopher Houston


Eric Christopher Houston


Eric Christopher Houston



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