A 16-year-old student pulled a gun from his backpack and opened fire on classmates at a high school north of Los Angeles on Thursday morning, striking five people before turning the gun on himself. Two students, a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy, died at a hospital.

The shooter, whose attack unfolded in front of surveillance cameras, survived his self-inflicted gunshot wound and was in grave condition at a hospital, authorities said at a news conference shortly before noon local time. Police said he turned 16 on Thursday.

The shooting victims who survived include a 14-year-old girl, a 15-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy. The incident unfolded in the quad of the school.

Deputy Armando Viera of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office said the shooting was reported at 7:38 a.m. at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita.

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People hurt in the incident were taken to Henry Mayo Hospital in Valencia. The hospital reported that a female patient had died. Two other male patients were in critical condition and a third male patient was in good condition

It was not clear if the injured people suffered gunshot wounds. During and after shootings, people are often injured as they attempt to flee.

Two female students told CNN in an interview that they heard five shots, one initial bang followed by four other rapid shots. Voices shaking, the girls told CNN that students still inside the school were hiding in closets and texting updates to friends who had already made it outside.

Three female students told CNN on air that they were by the library at the school and saw a wave of classmates running from the quad. They began running, too, leaving campus through a gate and running to the first house they could find in a nearby neighborhood, the girls said.

People wait outside of Saugus High School after reports of a shooting on Thursday. Photo / AP
People wait outside of Saugus High School after reports of a shooting on Thursday. Photo / AP

They also heard five shots, and said they could immediately tell the bang they heard was not the sound of a popping balloon or a falling binder. They said it was a "gut feeling."

"It took us a minute to process that we needed to run," one of the female students said on air.

The girls said they knew it wasn't a drill because the school holds drills only once the school day has started. The mayhem unfolded as students were still making their way to class early Thursday morning.

Another student told KABC in an interview that she and other students huddled in an office when gunfire opened. The student said she texted her father to say, "I love you."

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Saugus High, on a campus lined with palm trees, has about 2,400 students, according to federal data. Earlier this year, a half-dozen students were detained on charges stemming from violent threats they posted online, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Television footage showed students evacuating the school and emergency vehicles responding, with people in gurneys being loaded into ambulances on the school campus.

President Donald Trump was monitoring the situation, according to Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, on Twitter.

".@POTUS @realDonaldTrump is monitoring the ongoing reports of a school shooting in Santa Clarita, CA. The White House encourages all those in the area to follow the advice of local law enforcement and first responders."

Sen. Kamala Harris of California and a Democratic candidate for president, spoke with CNN's Anderson Cooper live on air and called shootings at schools "the new normal."

"Our kids are living in fear, wherever they live, they are living in fear," Harris said. "This is yet again another reason why they are so afraid, that literally they will die. It's tragic in the most fundamental way. It is tragic. it is senseless. it is unnecessary. It is devastating."

A member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department stands outside of Saugus High School with his weapon drawn after reports of a shooting on Thursday. Photo / AP
A member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department stands outside of Saugus High School with his weapon drawn after reports of a shooting on Thursday. Photo / AP

Harris also called for "reasonable" gun safety laws in the United States. "Enough is enough," she said.

This is at least the seventh shooting at a U.S. school this year, according to a Washington Post analysis. More than 230,000 schoolchildren have been exposed to gun violence in their schools since the shooting at Columbine High in Colorado in 1999.