Gunman targets people at random in Calif. town, kills 4
RANCHO TEHAMA RESERVE, Calif. – A gunman driving stolen vehicles and choosing his targets at random opened fire “without provocation” in a tiny, rural Northern California town 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 neighbor 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 2 miles away and spent about six minutes shooting into the building, striking at least one student, 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, 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, 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, Johnston said.
Police offered no immediate word on the assailant’s motive, but a sheriff’s official said the shooter’s neighbors had reported a domestic violence incident a day earlier. Officials did not specify who was involved or what happened.
Johnston said officials received multiple 911 calls about gunfire at an intersection of two dirt roads in the upper reaches of the sparsely populated neighborhood. Minutes later, more calls reporting shots flooded in from different locations, including a small elementary school.
“It was very clear at the onset that we had an individual that was randomly picking targets,” Johnston said.