Q: Wasn’t there a school shooting in Olivehurst back in the 1980s? What happened in that case with the suspect?
JJ Richardson, Reno, Nev.
A: Eric Houston was convicted of murder in the shooting deaths of his former high school civics teacher and three students during an eight-hour siege at Lindhurst High School in the Yuba County community of Olivehurst on May 1, 1992.
He was sentenced to death and, at age 46, remains on death row at San Quentin State Prison.
Houston, described as a 20-year-old disgruntled dropout, donned a camouflage hunting vest, loaded his car with an arsenal of weapons then pulled up to the school as afternoon classes got under way, according to an account in The Sacramento Bee. He entered the school with a semiautomatic rifle and a shotgun. He gunned down teacher Robert Brens, 28, and students Beamon Hill, 16; Judy Davis, 17; and Jason White, 19.
Houston was also found guilty of attempting to kill 10 other students and holding more than 80 students hostage during the siege. He let small groups of students go during the standoff with authorities and finally walked out, unarmed, at 10:30 that night.
Houston had just lost his job and his fiance, and he told students during the siege that Brens had given him an “F” three years earlier, preventing him from graduating with his senior class.
Houston was tried in Napa County after a judge ruled that he could not get a fair hearing in Yuba County due to extensive pretrial publicity. After a nearly four-week trial, the jury of seven men and five women deliberated only 1 1/2 days before reaching its verdicts.