San Bernardino shooting: School murder-suicide suspect left cryptic note

Last Updated Apr 12, 2017 12:31 PM EDT

SAN BERNARDINO -- Investigators found a handwritten note when they searched the home of a man police say fatally shot his estranged wife and a student in her elementary school classroom Monday and wounded another student before turning the gun on himself, investigators say.

San Bernardino police chief Jarrod Burguan told reporters Tuesday that while the note made reference the the relationship between Cedric Anderson and his wife Karen Smith, it was not a suicide note.

Anderson, 53, walked into the San Bernardino special-education classroom Monday and opened fire with a .357 Magnum, targeting his wife but also hitting two of her students. An 8-year-old boy died and another student is in stable condition. Anderson then killed himself.

Anderson fired a total of 10 shots, and re-loaded the weapon once, Burguan said.

The couple had married in January and separated in mid-March, with Smith leaving to stay with her adult children, Burguan said.

Burguan said investigators found the note when they searched Anderson’s home and investigators seized it as evidence. It referenced needing closure and feeling disrespected and dishonored, Burguan said. But outside the context of the shooting, nothing about the note would have been alarming, he said.

The note referenced “fixing things” and “moving forward with no regrets,” Burguan said.

Investigators have also seized electronics, including Smith and Anderson’s cell phones, Burguan said, and will attempt to piece together their communications in the days and hours leading up to the fatal attack.

Smith’s mother said after the two wed in January, Anderson quickly showed a dark side and her daughter moved out and was contemplating divorce. Smith’s mother, Irma Skyes, told the New York Daily News Anderson had threatened to kill her.

“He told her he would throw her out the window,” Skyes told the Daily News. “She was shocked, like ‘What happened?’ He was so kind to her while they were dating. She had no idea.”

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Karen Smith, left, and Cedric Anderson, right

CBS Los Angeles

Burguan confirmed during a Tuesday press conference that a family member told investigators Anderson made an allegation of infidelity against Smith and that she had mentioned his behavior was odd.

“She was concerned about his behavior and he had made some threats toward her. He did not make a specific threat to shoot her,” Burguan said. “She didn’t necessarily take the threats seriously -- she thought he was reaching out for attention.”

Authorities still have not determined a motive. After Smith ended the relationship and moved out of the home to live with her adult children, Burguan said, “he had been making efforts to have her come back home. She was resistant to that.”

“I don’t know if that just reached a boiling point or what it was,” Burguan said. “Nor do we know why he chose to do this at the school.”

School staffers knew Anderson, who followed the proper protocol and got into the school through the front office by saying he had to drop something off for Smith, officials said. No one at the school knew of the problems in their marriage, and it’s a common practice for spouses to visit teachers at school, Burguan said.

Burguan said security footage shows Anderson at first tried to enter through other doors, which were locked.

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Police offers stand guard at North Park Elementary School following a shooting on campus on Mon.,  April 10, 2017 in San Bernardino, Calif. Two people died, including the suspected shooter, and two children were wounded in the apparent murder-suicide attack.

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Marissa Perez, 9, said she got under a table as soon as she saw the gunman enter her classroom.

“She keeps telling me, ‘My teacher got shot, my friend got shot,’” her mother, Elizabeth Barajas, said as she clutched her daughter’s blood-stained sweatshirt.

Marissa said the shooter didn’t speak as he began shooting. One of her friends was hit, she added, pointing to her abdomen.

Jonathan Martinez, 8, died after being airlifted to a hospital. A 9-year-old boy, whose name was not released, also was wounded but was in “good spirits,” the police chief said.

Burguan said the wounded boy was shot in the upper body. The boy was “up and watching cartoons” and is expected to make a full recovery.

Officials on Tuesday gave more details about the boy who died, who was born with a genetic condition and had survived heart surgery.

Schools superintendent Dale Marsden said Tuesday that Jonathan Martinez had Williams syndrome, a rare disorder characterized by learning delays, mild intellectual disability and heart problems.

Marsden said children with Williams tend to be social, friendly and endearing. He said by all accounts Jonathan was a happy child.

After hundreds of students were evacuated from the school, panicked parents had to wait hours before reuniting with their children.

Holly Penalber, whose 9-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter attend the school, called it “every parent’s worst nightmare.” She said the long wait was “frustrating but also understandable.”

An overflow crowd gathered at sunset at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in San Bernardino to mourn and pray for the victims and survivors.

“Sometimes all we can do is cry. And today is the day for that,” Bishop Gerald R. Barnes said. “We’ll get up again. We’ll move on. We’ll become stronger. But today is the day to cry.”

A candlelight vigil is planned for the victims Tuesday evening at North Park Elementary. School district officials said classes would resume Monday.

The shooting at North Park Elementary came 15 months after a terror attack in San Bernardino that killed 14 people and wounded 22 others at a meeting of county employees. Husband-and-wife shooters Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik were later killed in a gunbattle with authorities.