Gun­man kills four in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia

Lodi News-Sentinel - - Front Page - By Don Thomp­son and Paul Elias

Po­lice shoot, kill gun­man who ‘ran­domly’ tar­geted peo­ple, in­clud­ing chil­dren at ele­men­tary school

RAN­CHO TE­HAMA RE­SERVE — A North­ern Cal­i­for­nia man killed two neigh­bors with whom he had been feud­ing be­fore he went on a shoot­ing ram­page Tues­day at ap­par­ent ran­dom sites — in­clud­ing an ele­men­tary school that suc­cess­fully locked him out — in a se­ries of at­tacks where he killed two more peo­ple and in­jured 10 be­fore po­lice fa­tally shot him, of­fi­cials said.

Po­lice said sur­veil­lance video shows the shooter un­suc­cess­fully try­ing to en­ter a nearby ele­men­tary school af­ter quick-think­ing staff mem­bers locked the out­side doors and bar­ri­caded them­selves in­side when they heard gun­shots.

Te­hama County As­sis­tant Sher­iff Phil John­ston said the gun­man spent about six min­utes shoot­ing into Ran­cho Te­hama Ele­men­tary School be­fore driv­ing off to con­tinue shoot­ing else­where. John­ston said one stu­dent was shot and in­jured and is ex­pected to sur­vive.

“It was a bizarre and mur­der­ous ram­page,” John­ston said.

He said the 45-minute spree ended when a pa­trol car rammed the stolen ve­hi­cle the shooter was driv­ing and killed him in a shootout. John­ston said the shooter was fac­ing charges of as­sault­ing one of the feud­ing neigh­bors in Jan­uary and that she had a re­strain­ing or­der against him.

“I think the mo­tive of get­ting even with his neigh­bors and when it went that far — he just went on a ram­page,” John­ston said. He said there was a “do­mes­tic vi­o­lence” re­port Mon­day in­volv­ing the gun­man, but didn’t pro­vide any fur­ther de­tails.

At least one of the vic­tims has life-threat­en­ing in­juries, he said.

John­ston de­clined to iden­tify the shooter un­til his rel­a­tives were no­ti­fied, but he con­firmed the gun­man was charged with as­sault in Jan­uary and had a re­strain­ing or­der placed against him. The dis­trict at­tor­ney, Gregg Cohen, told the Sacramento Bee he is pros­e­cut­ing a man named Kevin Neal in that case.

Neal’s mother told The Associated Press he was in a long-run­ning dis­pute with neigh­bors he be­lieved were cook­ing metham­phetamine.

The mother, who spoke on con­di­tion she be named only as Anne, lives in Raleigh, N.C., where she raised Neal. She said she posted his $160,000 bail and spent $10,000 on a lawyer af­ter he was ar­rested in Jan­uary for stab­bing a neigh­bor. Neal’s mother said the neigh­bor was slightly cut af­ter Neal grabbed a steak knife out of the hand of the neigh­bor who was threat­en­ing him with it.

She wept as she told The Associated Press she spoke to Neal on the phone on Mon­day.

“Mom it’s all over now,” she said he told her. “I have done ev­ery­thing I could do and I am fight­ing against ev­ery­one who lives in this area.”

She said Neal apol­o­gized to her dur­ing their brief con­ver­sa­tion, she thought for all the money she had spent.

He also told her that “Mom you know what, my whole life you gave me such a good happy life and no­body could have a bet­ter mother than I had.”

Then he said: “All of a sud­den, now I’m on a cliff and there’s nowhere to go. No mat­ter where I go for help here I get no­body who will help me. All they are do­ing is try­ing to ex­e­cute me here.”

She said un­til re­cently Neal seemed con­tent liv­ing in the neigh­bor­hood of mod­est homes and trail­ers and he grew mar­i­juana on his prop­erty. Re­cently she said he be­gan com­plain­ing about fail­ing health he at­trib­uted to the nearby metham­phetamine labs.

Neal’s sis­ter, Sheri­dan Orr, said the fam­ily was try­ing to reach the sher­iff ’s de­part­ment Tues­day evening but still had not been no­ti­fied. She said her brother had strug­gled with men­tal ill­ness through­out his life and at times had a vi­o­lent tem­per.

“We’re stunned and we’re ap­palled that this is a per­son who has no busi­ness with firearms what­so­ever,” Orr said. “Our deep, deep sym­pa­thy for the vic­tims and it sounds trite but our hearts are break­ing for them.”

The shoot­ings oc­curred in the ru­ral com­mu­nity of Ran­cho Te­hama Re­serve, a home­own­ers as­so­ci­a­tion in a sparsely pop­u­lated area of rolling oak wood­lands dot­ted with graz­ing cat­tle about 130 miles north of Sacramento de­scribed on its web­site as a “quiet pri­vate coun­try com­mu­nity” where “the peo­ple are friendly and the pace is re­laxed.”

John­ston said of­fi­cials re­ceived mul­ti­ple 911 calls about gun­fire at an in­ter­sec­tion of two dirt roads. Min­utes later, more calls re­port­ing shots flooded in from dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions, in­clud­ing the school.

Wit­nesses re­ported hear­ing gun­shots and chil­dren scream­ing at the school, which has one class of stu­dents from kin­der­garten through fifth grade.

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