Update, Nov. 15, 2:10 p.m.: The gunman, identified as Kevin Janson Neal, began his mass murder by first shooting his wife and hiding her body under the floor of their home, bring the death toll to five. “We believe that’s probably what started this whole event,” Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said.
Neal’s mother, interviewed by the Associated Press on Wednesday, said her son had phoned her before the killings, seemingly filled with despair. “Mom it’s all over now. I have done everything I could do and I am fighting against everyone who lives in this area,” she recalled him saying. “All of a sudden, now I’m on a cliff and there’s nowhere to go.”
Original post, published Tuesday, Nov. 14, 7:43 p.m.:
A gunman killed four people and hospitalized at least 10—including two children—on Tuesday after opening fire at an elementary school and six other sites in a Northern California community 130 miles north of Sacramento. Armed with two handguns and a semiautomatic rifle, the shooter, an as-yet unidentified man who was killed by two law enforcement officers, appears to have been attacking victims at random following a domestic violence incident.
The string of shootings began at 8 a.m. at a home in Rancho Tehama Reserve, a rural subdivision with fewer than 1,500 residents. Resident Brian Flint told local reporters that his roommate had been killed and his truck stolen by their neighbor, whom he says was a known felon. Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston declined to offer details or name the man but confirmed the suspect had prior encounters with law enforcement. Flint said that the gunman had been “threatening us” and “shooting a lot of bullets lately, hundreds of rounds, large magazines.”
Using two stolen vehicles, the gunman went on what Johnston described as a “shooting rampage” in the community, opening fire at targets with whom he had no known connection, including a woman and child driving to school as well as other students, teachers, and parents at the 100-pupil elementary school. According to witnesses, the shooter fired 90 to 100 rounds, some of which came through the windows of a kindergarten classroom. Johnston confirmed that while no children had been killed, at least two were wounded; the Redding Record Searchlight reported that a 6-year-old had been shot twice and was airlifted to a nearby medical center. The shooter ultimately exchanged fire with two officers, who killed him.
U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris of California responded to the tragedy on Twitter, with Feinstein wondering how to prevent future shootings.
Republican Rep. Doug LaMalfa, who represents Tehama County as part of California’s 1st District and described himself as “an ardent defender of our Second Amendment rights” on his campaign website, has not yet issued a statement on the shooting.
“This is a very tragic event for all of us,” said Johnston. Indeed, the murders would be tragic on their own, but the news is more harrowing considering how common mass shootings have become: This is the fifth mass shooting in the past month and a half, according to Mother Jones’ running tabulation, and comes just nine days after the Sutherland Springs massacre.