School’s ac­tion saves chil­dren from Cal­i­for­nia gun­man

The Globe and Mail (BC Edition) - - NEWS - DON THOMP­SON PAUL ELIAS

A gun­man driv­ing stolen ve­hi­cles and choos­ing his tar­gets at ran­dom opened fire “with­out provo­ca­tion” in a tiny, ru­ral North­ern Cal­i­for­nia town on Tues­day, killing four peo­ple and wound­ing at least 10 oth­ers, in­clud­ing a stu­dent at an ele­men­tary school, be­fore po­lice shot him dead, au­thor­i­ties said.

The ram­page be­gan shortly be­fore 8 a.m. when the gun­man fa­tally shot a neigh­bour he had been ac­cused of stab­bing in Jan­uary, Te­hama County As­sis­tant Sher­iff Phil John­ston said.

Shortly af­ter­ward, the gun­man rammed through the gate of Ran­cho Te­hama Ele­men­tary School about three kilo­me­tres away and spent about six min­utes shoot­ing into the build­ing, strik­ing at least one stu­dent, Mr. John­ston said. Sur­veil­lance video showed the gun­man, who was not iden­ti­fied, try­ing un­suc­cess­fully to en­ter the school, au­thor­i­ties said.

School of­fi­cials’ swift de­ci­sion to lock the doors af­ter hear­ing gun­fire was “mon­u­men­tal” in sav­ing the lives of count­less chil­dren, Mr. John­ston said. No one was killed there.

The gun­man left the school af­ter he could not get in­side and pur­posely crashed the stolen truck he was driv­ing into an­other ve­hi­cle and shot at its oc­cu­pants, Mr. John­ston said. The shooter stole the car of a per­son who stopped to check on the crash and ran away when con­fronted with a gun.

He con­tin­ued the ram­page un­til po­lice shot him about 45 min­utes af­ter it started, Mr. John­ston said.

The shoot­ings oc­curred in the ru­ral com­mu­nity of Ran­cho Te­hama Re­serve, a home­own­ers as­so­ci­a­tion of mod­est houses and trail­ers in rolling oak wood­lands about 209 kilo­me­tres north of Sacramento. Po­lice of­fered no im­me­di­ate word on the as­sailant’s mo­tive, but a sher­iff’s of­fi­cial said the shooter’s neigh­bours had re­ported a do­mes­tic-vi­o­lence in­ci­dent a day ear­lier.

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