4 dead in ran­dom shoot­ing ram­page

The Columbus Dispatch - - Nation&world - By Mark Ber­man and Su­san Svrluga

NA­TIONAL CRIME

A gun­man shoot­ing at ran­dom peo­ple and lo­ca­tions killed four peo­ple Tues­day in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia, tar­get­ing an el­e­men­tary school and a woman driv­ing her chil­dren to school dur­ing the ram­page, au­thor­i­ties said.

This lat­est burst of gun­fire to ter­ror­ize a com­mu­nity un­folded with­out an im­me­di­ate ex­pla­na­tion, as the gun­man spewed bul­lets across what po­lice de­scribed as "a very wide­spread area."

About 10 peo­ple were in­jured and taken to hos­pi­tals, in­clud­ing at least three chil­dren, one of whom was at the el­e­men­tary school in Ran­cho Te­hama Re­serve, po­lice said. No chil­dren were among those killed, which ended when law en­force­ment of­fi­cers fa­tally shot the gun­man.

"As tragic and as bad as it is, (it) could have been so much worse," Phil Johnston, an as­sis­tant sher­iff in Te­hama County, told re­porters.

When the gun­man ar­rived at Ran­cho Te­hama El­e­men­tary School on Tues­day morn­ing, he rammed his ve­hi­cle into the fence and marched onto the grounds wield­ing a semi­au­to­matic ri­fle and wear­ing a vest em­bed­ded with ad­di­tional clips, Johnston said. But the gun­man was un­able to en­ter the class­rooms be­cause school of­fi­cials had heard gun­fire and im­me­di­ately locked down the premises.

The at­tacker fired dozens of rounds at the school, of­fi­cials said, shoot­ing out win­dows and through walls of class­rooms, in­jur­ing at least one stu­dent with gun­fire and oth­ers with bro­ken glass. But since he could not get inside, the frus­trated gun­man aban­doned the school af­ter about six min­utes and went else­where, said Johnston, prais­ing the school of­fi­cials who "saved count­less lives and chil­dren."

The shoot­ing be­gan shortly be­fore 8 a.m., Johnston said.

Po­lice re­ceived "mul­ti­ple 911 calls of mul­ti­ple dif­fer­ent shoot­ing sites, in­clud­ing the el­e­men­tary school" in Ran­cho Te­hama Re­serve, a small area about 135 miles north of

Sacra­mento, he said.

Johnston de­clined to iden­tify the gun­man late Tues­day af­ter­noon, say­ing of­fi­cials still had to no­tify the man’s next-of-kin, but he said the per­son had been known to law en­force­ment.

Po­lice did not im­me­di­ately iden­tify a mo­tive for the at­tack, though they said it was ap­par­ently pre­ceded by a dis­pute the shooter had with a neigh­bor.

The gun­man was ar­rested and charged in Jan­uary with as­sault­ing this neigh­bor — an un­named woman — with a deadly weapon. She was among the vic­tims killed Tues­day, said Johnston, who de­clined to iden­tify her or a man found dead in the same area.

Ear­lier Tues­day, Johnston had said that po­lice were told by neigh­bors that “there was a do­mes­tic vi­o­lence in­ci­dent” in­volv­ing the sus­pected at­tacker, who had a res­i­dence in Ran­cho Te­hama. A re­strain­ing order had been is­sued to the shooter, Johnston said, but he did not know the specifics of what was in the order.

“This is an in­di­vid­ual that armed him­self, I think with the mo­tive of get­ting even with his neigh­bors, and I think when it went that far, he just went on a ram­page,” Johnston said.

The gun­man’s wrath was in­dis­crim­i­nate, ac­cord­ing to the sher­iff’s of­fice. He fired at homes as he passed them and, at one point, in­ten­tion­ally crashed into a ve­hi­cle with other peo­ple in it, only to be­gin shoot­ing at them as they got out, killing one of them, Johnston said.

In an­other ap­par­ently ran­dom en­counter, a woman was driv­ing her chil­dren to school when she crossed paths with the shooter. He “opened fire on them with­out provo­ca­tion or warn­ing,” se­verely in­jur­ing her and wound­ing one of her chil­dren, Johnston said.

“She told me that she doesn’t know this per­son, never seen this per­son, does not know why he started shoot­ing at her,” Johnston said.

The gun­man also did not have any ap­par­ent con­nec­tion to the el­e­men­tary school or any­one inside it, Johnston said.

Still wear­ing their

back­packs, chil­dren in one class­room hid un­der their desks and then were told to hud­dle in a teacher’s of­fice, said Coy Fer­reira, 32, whose daugh­ter is a kinder­gart­ner there.

The gun­man — vis­i­ble out the win­dow, wear­ing green cam­ou­flage, Fer­reira said — fired a vol­ley of bul­lets at the class­room’s win­dows. One boy was shot in the chest and leg; teach­ers as­sisted and pre­pared him to be taken to the hos­pi­tal.

“That’s when he started cry­ing that he wanted to go home and be with his mommy,” he said. “He didn’t want to go to the doc­tor. … This 5-year-old shot twice.”

The boy was re­ported in sta­ble con­di­tion Tues­day night.

When law en­force­ment of­fi­cers found the gun­man, he was chas­ing and fir­ing at an­other ve­hi­cle, Johnston said. An of­fi­cer rammed the gun­man’s car, forc­ing it off of the road, and he ex­changed shots with the of­fi­cers, who ul­ti­mately killed him.

Johnston said po­lice re­cov­ered a semi­au­to­matic ri­fle and two hand­guns be­lieved to be used by the shooter.

[RICH PE­DRON­CELLI/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS]

Two uniden­ti­fied women em­brace out­side Ran­cho Te­hama El­e­men­tary School, where a gun­man opened fire Tues­day in Corn­ing, Calif. Sev­eral peo­ple were wounded at the school.

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