A disgruntled former city employee tried to take the mayor and several city council members hostage inside Riverside City Hall on Tuesday, Correspondent Helen Kumari reports for CBS News.
The situation quickly became violent when the gunman, Joseph Neale, wounded four people, including Mayor Ron Loveridge.
"I am very grateful to be standing here, to be alive," a visibly shaken mayor told a press conference Tuesday after getting 16 stitches to close a graze wound on the back of his neck.
Neale himself was injured in an exchange of gunfire with police. He suffered multiple wounds, including one in the leg that was apparently self-inflicted.
The most seriously injured person was City Councilman Chuck Beaty, who was shot twice by the gunman.
Police Sgt. Wally Rice was shot through the door as he and other officers battered it open with a sledgehammer and crowbar. Rice underwent surgery for gunshot wounds. Councilwoman Laura Pearson, slightly injured in the leg, was treated at a hospital and released. Riverside police said none of the injuries were life threatening.
Mayor Ron Loveridge
The shootout took place as officials gathered for the monthly council meeting in Riverside, 60 miles east of Los Angeles. City Hall, unlike nearby courtrooms, has no metal detectors, and security always has been minimal, Police Chief Jerry Carroll said.
"It was surrealistic," said Mayor Loveridge. "Something you'd see on a movie or television. And you also recognize that you may or may not leave that room, that this might have been your final testimonialÂ…of lying on the floor in a small room behind the council chambers."
Neale, 48, is a postal worker who had sued the city for wrongful termination after he was fired as a recreation worker in 1994. The case was scheduled for trial this month, though authorities would not speculate on what set off the attack.
To those on the city's poorer east side, Neale was known as "The Chessman," someone who had once organized a chess club to keep young boys from joining gangs.
For years, Neale wrote letters to President Clinton, Gov. Pete Wilson, the mayor, and local businessmen, pleading for help to keep his chess program alive at a community center.