Random rampage ends with 5 dead
Gunman slays 4 people in spree, police kill attacker
RANCHO TEHAMA RESERVE, Tehama County — A neighborhood dispute turned into the nation’s latest mass shooting when a gunman killed four people and wounded 10 others, choosing most of his victims at random in a rampage Tuesday that spread to an elementary school in this rural community 115 miles north of Sacramento, authorities said.
The spree, which ranged over several locations and injured multiple children at Rancho Tehama Elementary School, ended when the killer — who like his victims was not immediately identified, and whose motive was unknown — was shot dead by law enforcement officers.
The barrage of gunfire erupted around 8 a.m. near the suspect’s home in Rancho Tehama Reserve, a community
of about 1,500 people southwest of Red Bluff, and lasted about 45 minutes as the man stole two cars and drove around shooting people, including at the school attended by nearly 100 children, said the county sheriff ’s office.
Some students were rushed to hospitals while other, noninjured students were taken “to a safe location” by bus, said Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston. He said the wounded victims included a student inside the school and a woman and a child in a car.
The woman’s injuries were described by authorities as “life-threatening.” Johnston said the woman “had no clue who he was or why” the shooter had opened fire.
Two officers caught up to the assailant and “returned fire” after he “engaged” them, Johnston said. He said, “The suspected shooter is deceased by law enforcement bullets.”
A review of the police shooting will be run by the Red Bluff Police Department with assistance from the county district attorney’s office, the California Highway Patrol and the FBI, officials said.
As the day went on, at least 100 officers collected evidence at seven crime scenes. They recovered a semiautomatic rifle, two handguns and a stolen vehicle believed to have been used in the shootings, Johnston added.
While the identity of the gunman was not immediately released, Johnston said he had “prior contacts” with law enforcement, including a domestic violence incident on Monday, and was apparently out on bail following a separate arrest for an undisclosed offense.
Near the school, a man who identified himself as Brian Flint said his roommate was one of the slain victims, and that the gunman was his neighbor, whom he identified as “Kevin.”
Flint said “Kevin” had stolen his pickup truck and had been acting “crazy” and firing guns.
Another witness said the gunman was a local resident who was “known to fire weapons nonstop.”
Juan Caravez, the president of the local homeowners’ association, said his group had, in the past, received about two dozen complains about the man believed to be the assailant.
“We can always hear him shooting,” he said. “A lot of neighbors called. We would hear the shooting every day.”
Tuesday’s violence began with reports of gunshots and a “man down” at a residence near Bobcat and Fawn lanes, Johnston said. A number of witnesses made 911 calls as the suspect opened fire, before he stole an unoccupied car from Bobcat Lane that he drove around while shooting people at random, authorities said.
The proprietor of a coffee shop about a half-mile from the elementary school said she heard “at least 100 rounds.”
“After hearing the first 30 shots, we called 911,” said Tiffany Rodgers, who owns Coffee Addiction. “I heard people yelling, ‘Get down, get down.’ ’’
Rodgers said she also heard the “yelping of a dog” she believed had been shot.
Sue Keating, who said she lives two blocks from the school, said a companion told her she heard many shots “and assumed someone was hunting.”
“We’ve never had something like this here,” Keating said, “so you don’t think about it,” Keating said.
Johnston said no clear motive emerged for the shootings and that the gunman did not appear to be connected to the victims, with the exception of those at the first shooting site, where there was a history of a “neighborhood dispute.”
“Essentially with this individual, after the initial shooting he reportedly took a vehicle and went on a shooting rampage throughout the community,” Johnston said.
At one point, the gunman crashed the first stolen vehicle and then robbed someone of another car to continue the carnage, Johnston said.
No officers were injured in the incident, he said.
Jeanine Quist, an administrative assistant with the Corning Union Elementary School District, confirmed that more than one student was injured. No students or school employees were among the fatalities, she said. Hours after the shooting, the single-story beige-and-blue buildings were surrounded by yellow police tape.
Rick Fitzpatrick, the district superintendent, said the school would be closed Wednesday through Friday, for repairs and to accommodate the investigation.
He said school staff heard reports of shots in the area and took about a minute and half to put the school under lockdown. Almost simultaneously, Fitzpatrick said, the shooter drove through a gate at high speed in a white pickup, came out of the truck with a semiautomatic rifle, and started shooting.
“This is every administrator’s nightmare,” Fitzpatrick said. “In a school system you live under the threat of something like this happening.”
The Rancho Tehama Airport, less than a mile from the elementary school, was put on lockdown Tuesday morning, airport officials said.
Nicole Johansson, a spokeswoman for Enloe Medical Center in Chico, said the hospital received five patients. Three were treated and released and two patients remained hospitalized, said Johansson, who declined to disclose their conditions and whether they were adults or children.
The violence came within seven weeks of three other horrific mass killings across the country. On Oct. 1, a gunman opened fire from a highrise Las Vegas hotel onto a country music festival, killing 58 and wounding 546. On Oct. 31, a man in a truck deliberately ran over people on a New York City bike path, killing eight and wounding 11. On Nov. 5, a gunman opened fire in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 and injuring 20.
Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein issued statements Tuesday deploring the violence. Brown said he was “saddened to hear about today’s violence, which shockingly involved schoolchildren” and Feinstein asked, “When will this stop and how can we stop it?”
“This is every administrator’s nightmare. In a school system you live under the threat of something like this happening.” Rick Fitzpatrick, school district superintendent
Two women embrace outside Rancho Tehama Elementary School, where a gunman opened fire, injuring multiple children.
FBI investigators check out the scene at the elementary school, which about 100 children attend. Students were rushed to hospitals while the uninjured were taken to a safe location.
Rancho Tehama Reserve resident Debbie Elworthy received a reverse 911 call Tuesday morning warning of the active shooter. Phil Johnston, the assistant sheriff for Tehama County, briefs reporters on the shootings near the rural elementary school where multiple people were injured, including students.