Calif. at­tacker’s neigh­bors re­ported do­mes­tic vi­o­lence in­ci­dent on Mon­day

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Front page - Rich Pedroncelli/As­so­ci­ated Press

Two women em­brace out­side Ran­cho Te­hama Ele­men­tary School, where a gun­man opened fire Tues­day in Cal­i­for­nia. Story on

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 at least four peo­ple and wound­ing at least 10 oth­ers, in­clud­ing a stu­dent at an ele­men­tary school, be­fore po­lice shot him dead, au­thor­i­ties said.

The gun­fire be­gan shortly be­fore 8 a.m. in the ru­ral com­mu­nity of Ran­cho Te­hama Re­serve, a home­own­ers as­so­ci­a­tion of mod­est houses and trail­ers in rolling oak wood­lands dot­ted with graz­ing cat­tle about 130 miles north of Sacra­mento.

The gun­man, iden­ti­fied as Kevin Jan­son Neal, 44, en­tered the ele­men­tary school but was un­able to get into the class­rooms be­cause school of­fi­cials had heard gun­shots out­side the build­ing and locked the doors, au­thor­i­ties 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.

Brian Flint told the Record Search­light news­pa­per in the city of Red­ding that his neigh­bor, whom he knew only as Kevin, was the gun­man and that his room­mate was among the vic­tims. He said the shooter also stole his truck.

“The crazy thing is that the neigh­bor has been shoot­ing a lot of bul­lets lately, hun­dreds of rounds, large mag­a­zines,” Mr. Flint said. “We made it aware that this guy is crazy, and he’s been threat­en­ing us.”

Te­hama County As­sis­tant Sher­iff Phil 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,” Sher­iff John­ston said.

Wit­nesses re­ported hear­ing gun­shots and chil­dren scream­ing at Ran­cho Te­hama Ele­men­tary School, which has one class of stu­dents from kin­der­garten through fifth grade.

Sher­iff John­ston said one stu­dent was shot at the school and flown by he­li­copter to a hos­pi­tal, and an­other stu­dent was wounded in a car on the way to school. He said no one was killed there.

“The shooter tar­geted the school from out­side the school and shot in­side the school with­mul­ti­ple rounds,” Sher­iff John­ston­said.

The as­sis­tant sher­iff said the school locked its doors, and stu­dents and staff “shel­tered in place” un­til deputies ush­ered them onto a school bus and led it to safety un­der heavy guard.

Sher­iff John­ston said the shooter ap­pears to have fired a semi­au­to­matic ri­fle and two hand­guns at seven lo­ca­tions, au­thor­i­ties said.

The shooter ini­tially stole a neigh­bor’s truck and then car­jacked a sec­ond ve­hi­cle be­fore two deputies ex­changed gun­fire with him, Sher­iff John­ston said. No of­fi­cers were hurt.

Sal­vador Tello said the gun­man fired at a truck in front of him as he went to drop off his three chil­dren at school. Mr. Tello said he was about three blocks from the school when bul­lets made “big holes” in the truck.

He said he forced his chil­dren to duck down, slammed his ve­hi­cle into re­verse and headed to the chil­dren’s grand­mother’s house.

“I don’t be­lieve it, be­cause I wake up, take my kids, feed them ce­real and put them in the truck and say, ‘Let’s go to school like a nor­mal day,’” he said.

On the way, he said he saw an ap­par­ent gun­shot vic­tim and po­lice at an­other scene.

The ru­ral sub­di­vi­sion is de­scribed on its web­site as a “quiet pri­vate coun­try com­mu­nity” where “the peo­ple are friendly and the pace is re­laxed.” The home­owner as­so­ci­a­tion’s web­site says there are 1,346 vot­ing mem­bers.

“It’s pretty quiet,” said 14-year res­i­dent Vince Broff, who lives about a mile from the school but was kept away from his home for more than three hours.

Jim Schultz/The Record Search­light via AP

Crime tape blocks off Ran­cho Te­hama Road lead­ing into the Ran­cho Te­hama sub­di­vi­sion south of Red Bluff, Calif., fol­low­ing a fa­tal shoot­ing on Tues­day.

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