Calif. attacker’s neighbors reported domestic violence incident on Monday
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.
Crime tape blocks off Rancho Tehama Road leading into the Rancho Tehama subdivision south of Red Bluff, Calif., following a fatal shooting on Tuesday.