RED BLUFF, Tehama County (CBS SF) – Authorities Tuesday evening identified the gunman who killed four people and wounded at least ten others, including children, during a shooting rampage in a small Northern California community before being fatally shot by law enforcement.
The Tehama County District Attorney announced that the gunman was 43-year-old Kevin Janson Neal early Tuesday evening. Authorities said that Neal was known to authorities and provided media with a past mugshot.
The gunman was being prosecuted for assault with a deadly weapon and a stabbing of two of his female neighbors. He was released from jail and expected to stand trial in January 2018.
Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said the rampage took place in the community of Rancho Tehama Reserve. The community is located about 15 miles southwest of Red Bluff and about 110 miles northwest of Sacramento.
"This is a very bad day for Tehama County," Johnston said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
Johnston said around 7:50 a.m., the gunman shot one person near the corner of Bobcat Lane and Fawn Lane. The gunman took off in a vehicle and opened fire at several other locations in the community, including at the Rancho Tehama elementary school, before crashing the vehicle.
No children were killed at the school, but several of them were shot and wounded. A six-year-old remained hospitalized Tuesday night.
The assistant sheriff said the gunman then stole a second vehicle before he was killed in a confrontation with two officers.
Officers are investigating at least seven crime scenes in the community.
The assistant sheriff said all of those killed were adults. At least 10 people were being treated for their injuries in Northern California hospitals.
Among those injured include a child who was shot at the school, Johnston said. A second child who was being driven to school was also shot and suffered non life-threatening injuries. The woman who was driving the child to school was critically injured.
"It was very clear at the onset that we had an individual that was randomly picking targets," Johnston said.
Sarah Gonzales was one of his targets.
"He shot [at me] through his front windshield," Gonzales told KPIX 5.
He then drove toward Rancho Elementary School where her daughter Arianna was inside.
"He had already crashed in the fence and was inside the schoolyard and he was loading the gun back up," remembered Gonzales.
Johnston said that school officials took heroic action at the elementary school to keep the children safe.
"This incident, as tragic and as bad as it is, could have been so much worse if it wasn't for the quick thinking staff at our elementary school," said Johnston. "Because there were a series of gunshots about a quarter mile away that alerted that staff, and they went on an immediate lockdown without having to be alerted by law enforcement."
When the gunman was unable to enter the school due to the exterior doors being locked, Johnston said he fired at the building several times before he headed into town along a two-lane road.
Tiffany Rodgers heard the gunfire from inside her coffee shop.
"Heard about 30 more rounds. At that point I could hear the children at the school screaming and someone yelling, 'Get down!,'" said Rodgers. "I could see a gentleman on the airstrip screaming for help."
Johnston said the gunman used a semi-automatic rifle and two handguns in the rampage.
He declined to release the name of the shooter but said the gunfire began with a domestic violence incident that neighbors reported.
Rancho Tehama Reserve resident Brian Flint told KHSL that the gunman killed one of his roommates and stole his truck. He said the shooter was a known felon.
Flint said he and his roommate reported their neighbor's activity to authorities.
"The crazy thing is, 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."
Parent Coy Ferreira told KRCR-TV that he was dropping off his daughter for kindergarten at the school in Rancho Tehama Reserve when gunfire erupted and a secretary ran out and yelled for the kids to race inside.
Ferreira says he wound up in a classroom where 14 students cowered under desks while shots rang out for what seemed nearly a half-hour.
He says some bullets hit the windows and a boy was shot in the chest and foot. His family tells KRCR-TV that he's in critical condition.
Jeanine Quist, an administrative assistant with the Corning Union Elementary School District, said no one was killed at the school.
Gov. Jerry Brown and California's two U.S. Senators have issued statements on Twitter expressing condolences.
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