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Up for parole | Convicted Santana High School shooter has a chance at freedom

Due to new laws, Andy Williams is eligible in March 2024. CBS 8 spoke to several people, and no one was aware that a chance for parole could come so soon.

Dorian Hargrove, Jayne Yutig


Published: 12:04 PM PDT September 13, 2023
Updated: 12:04 PM PDT September 13, 2023

WARNING: Some of the content featured in this story is graphic and describes events on March 5, 2001, the day of the Santana High School shooting.

Just after 9:00 a.m. on March 5, 2001

15-year-old Charles “Andy” Williams burst out of a bathroom stall at Santana High School in Santee with a loaded .22 caliber revolver and immediately took aim.

He shot an eleventh-grader in the back of the neck as the student stood at the urinal. 

Williams shot 14-year-old Bryan Zuckor in the back of his head while Zuckor walked toward the door. He turned and fired at another student who was using the urinal, hitting him in the chest. He turned the gun on a student-teacher who was at the sink washing his hands, striking him in the abdomen.

Williams opened the bathroom door, positioned himself in the doorway, and fired indiscriminately into Santana High School’s courtyard. He fired at students and faculty members as they ran for cover. Williams shot 17-year-old Randy Gordon in the back near a grassy area behind a nearby building. 

Williams re-entered the bathroom to reload his gun. He smirked at a school security guard who was lying on the pavement, wounded. 

After reloading, the 15-year-old shooter took his place under the doorway and fired into the crowd.

Sheriff’s Deputies arrived and arrested Williams.

In the end, 17-year-old Randy Gordon and 14-year-old Bryan Zuckor died in the shooting while 13 others were wounded.

The Santana High School shooting is San Diego County’s worst school shooting in history.

After serving nearly 23 years in prison, having spent more than 70% of his life behind bars, San Diego's deadliest school shooter Andy Williams will be eligible for parole in March 2024.

In the months leading up to that hearing, the hundreds of students who scrambled for safety that day as the cracks from Williams’ gun echoed through the school’s hallways; the parents who sprinted in terror to Santana High School to rescue their children; the 13 students and faculty that were shot, the families of the two boys that were killed, must all face a new challenge.

The challenge is whether a then-15-year-old mass shooter has a right to a second chance.

Once again, the small city of Santee will become the center of a national discussion on school shootings, bullying, and how to deal with school shooters and what their fate should be.

While some see Williams's upcoming parole as a step closer to healing from the scars of a tragedy that has defined their generation and an opportunity to understand Williams’ motivations in hopes of preventing future shootings from happening, others believe Williams hasn’t yet, nor will ever, pay for the pain that he inflicted.

Ahead of Williams’s upcoming parole hearing, CBS 8 interviewed survivors, their family members, and community members, all of whom were unaware of the upcoming hearing. 

CBS 8 also spoke with juvenile justice experts who helped craft laws that changed how juvenile murderers and other offenders are tried and sentenced. 

In a series of phone interviews from prison, CBS 8 spoke to the shooter, Andy Williams, the then 15-year-old who devastated countless lives and changed the fabric of an entire community about the pain that he has inflicted and how he attempts to make amends for something that can never be forgotten nor forgiven.

In considering whether to interview Santana High School shooter, Andy Williams, CBS 8 considered the impact to the victims and their families, to the survivors whose lives continue to be impacted, and to the community of Santee. After consideration, CBS 8, opted to refrain from Williams' recollection of events from that day and focus on what Williams says he has done to rehabilitate himself in the 23 years since the shooting. 

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