Ran­dom ram­page ends with 5 dead

Gun­man slays 4 peo­ple in spree, po­lice kill at­tacker

San Francisco Chronicle - - WORLD - By Melody Gu­tier­rez, Jenna Lyons and Steve Ruben­stein

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

Rich Pe­dron­celli / As­so­ci­ated Press

Two women em­brace out­side Ran­cho Te­hama El­e­men­tary School, where a gun­man opened fire, in­jur­ing mul­ti­ple chil­dren.

Michael Ma­cor / The Chron­i­cle

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.

Rich Pe­dron­celli / As­so­ci­ated Press Michael Ma­cor / The Chron­i­cle

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.

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