At least five people were killed and 10 others — including two children — were wounded Tuesday morning in a string of shootings that spanned seven crime scenes in rural Tehama County, California. The gunman died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Police believe the shooting began at the gunman’s home in the small community of Rancho Tehama Reserve around 8 a.m., when he fatally shot his wife. He then shot one of his neighbors, stole a truck belonging to the wounded man’s roommate, and drove through town, firing at other cars before coming to Rancho Tehama Elementary School, where he wounded at least 10 other people. Two children, one as young as 6 years old, were among the injured.
Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said police recovered a semiautomatic rifle and two handguns from the shooter.
News reports described a “completely emotional scene” as frantic parents waited for news from the elementary school.
The gunman had an ongoing dispute with his neighbors.
The Sacramento Bee, citing “multiple sources,” identified the gunman as Kevin Janson Neal, a 43-year-old man who clashed frequently with his neighbors. In January, Neal was arrested for assaulting a neighbor with a knife. His mother told the Associated Press that she paid his $160,000 bail, and upon his release, Neal was served with a restraining order. Though the Sheriff’s Office shared no details on the terms of the bail, anyone who is served with a restraining order in California, whether temporary or permanent, is required to surrender their guns. Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston would not comment on why Neal still possessed his.
Neal’s sister, Sheridan Orr, said she was “stunned” that her brother, who had mental health issues and a violent temper, had guns and said he had “no business with firearms whatsoever.”
Juan Caravez, president of the local homeowners’ association, told the AP that he and other neighbors complained of frequent gunfire coming from Neal’s property, but “the sheriff wouldn’t do anything about it.” Brian Flint, whose roommate was killed by the shooter, said Neal had been “shooting a lot of bullets lately, hundreds of rounds, large magazines,” and that living near him was “hell.”
“We made it aware that this guy is crazy and he’s been threatening us,” Flint said, adding that “more effort” should have been “put into potentially stopping things like this.”
Neal had recently married his girlfriend, his mother told the AP. Investigators believe that the shooting death of Neal’s wife marked the beginning of his rampage. Police found her body hidden in a hole in the floor of his home Monday night, Johnston said. The day before the shooting, police responded to Neal’s home for a domestic violence call, but police did not elaborate. Johnston said he was concerned because several of Neal’s relatives could not be located.
‘It’s a really sad day’ for a small, rural community.
Katrina Gierman, a local resident, told The Trace that she found out about the shooting when her husband’s “phone was blowing up from the neighbor calling.” He told her something was happening near the school. That’s when Gierman walked outside and heard “gunshots echoing,” she said.
Reached via social media, Gierman described the community as one where “everything is 20 [minutes] out” — the “freeway .. walmart … doctors everything.”
“Everyone is in shock,” she said.
Rancho Tehama Reserve, a community of about 1,500 people 160 miles north of San Francisco, hasn’t recorded a single shooting in the four years that Gun Violence Archive, which tracks police and media reports of shootings, has been compiling shooting data.
Tehama County has recorded two other shootings this year, according to Gun Violence Archive. In January, two people were killed in an attempted home invasion robbery. One of the robbers was among the dead, and police believe residents of the home fired in self-defense. In March, a 51-year-old man was fatally shot during an argument over child custody. Police arrested the mother of his child.
At a brief press conference, Johnston, the assistant sheriff, choked up at the rare spasm of gun violence in his community. “It’s a really sad day for us in Tehama County, really,” he said.
There have been 28 shooting incidents at schools in America so far in 2017.
That’s according to the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks police and media reports of shootings. In April, a man in San Bernardino, California, opened fire in a special-education class taught by his estranged wife, killing her and one of her students before killing himself.