Cal­i­for­nia shooter kills 4

Yuma Sun - - FRONT PAGE -

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

The ram­page be­gan shortly be­fore 8 a.m. when the gun­man fa­tally shot a neigh­bor he had been ac­cused of stab­bing in Jan­uary, Te­hama County As­sis­tant Sher­iff Phil Johnston said.

Shortly af­ter­ward, the gun­man rammed through the gate of Ran­cho Te­hama El­e­men­tary School about 2 miles away and spent about six min­utes shoot­ing into the build­ing, strik­ing at least one stu­dent, Johnston said.

Sur­veil­lance video showed the gun­man, who was not iden­ti­fied, try­ing un­suc­cess­fully to en­ter the school, au­thor­i­ties said.

School of­fi­cials’ swift de­ci­sion to lock the doors af­ter hear­ing gun­fire was “mon­u­men­tal” in sav­ing the lives of count­less chil­dren, Johnston said. No one was killed there.

The gun­man left the school af­ter he could not get in­side and pur­posely crashed the stolen truck he was driv­ing into an­other ve­hi­cle and shot at its oc­cu­pants, Johnston said.

The shooter stole the car of a per­son who stopped to check on the crash and ran away when con­fronted with a gun. He con­tin­ued the ram­page un­til po­lice shot him about 45 min­utes af­ter it started, Johnston said.

“This man was very, very bent on com­plet­ing what he set out to do,” the as­sis­tant sher­iff said.

The shoot­ings oc­curred 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.

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. Of­fi­cials did not spec­ify who was in­volved or what hap­pened.

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

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

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,” Johnston said.

Wit­nesses re­ported hear­ing gun­shots and chil­dren scream­ing at the school, which has one class of stu­dents from kin­der­garten through fifth grade.

Johnston said the stu­dent shot at the school was flown by he­li­copter to a hos­pi­tal, and an­other stu­dent was wounded in a car on the way to school.

He said au­thor­i­ties be­lieve they know the iden­tity of the shooter but de­clined to re­lease his name pend­ing fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion. He ap­pears to have fired a semi­au­to­matic ri­fle and two hand­guns at seven lo­ca­tions, au­thor­i­ties said.

Sal­vador Tello said the gun­man fired at a truck in front of him as he went to drop off his three chil­dren at school. 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 put my kids down and put my truck in re­verse and went out,” he said. “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.’”

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 2,016 lots in the com­mu­nity and 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.

Be­fore a law en­force­ment crack­down, mar­i­juana farm­ing was preva­lent in the iso­lated area sev­eral years ago down and ap­peared to at­tract some crime, but “noth­ing this se­ri­ous,” Broff said.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

IN­VES­TI­GA­TORS VIEW A PICKUP TRUCK IN­VOLVED IN A deadly shoot­ing at the Ran­cho Te­hama Re­serve, near Corn­ing, Calif., Tues­day. A gun­man driv­ing stolen ve­hi­cles and choos­ing his tar­gets at ran­dom opened fire “with­out provo­ca­tion” in the tiny, ru­ral North­ern Cal­i­for­nia town Tues­day, killing sev­eral peo­ple, in­clud­ing a stu­dent at an el­e­men­tary school, be­fore po­lice shot him dead, au­thor­i­ties said.

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