California gunman’s mother says he was frustrated by ongoing feud with neighbors
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that two children were among the four dead. Two children were wounded, but are being treated for their injuries.
The mother of the gunman who killed four people and wounded at least 10 others, including two children, in Northern California Tuesday may have more insight into her son’s motive.
In a phone interview with the Associated Press, the gunman’s mother, who only gave her first name Anne, revealed that her son had been feeling frustrated by an ongoing feud with his neighbors.
“I’m on a cliff and there’s nowhere to go,” he reportedly said to his mother on the matter.
A day before opening fire at multiple “random” locations near Rancho Tehama Elementary School, the shooter called his mother and said “it’s all over now,” the AP reported.
Anne also said she posted bail for her son back in January after he was charged with stabbing one of the neighbors.
Although police have declined to identify the shooter, they confirmed the same man was charged with the January assault. Gregg Cohen, the district attorney, told The Sacramento Bee that the man in that assault case is Kevin Neal.
The shooter tried to access rooms at an elementary school to shoot more kids as part of a “bizarre and murderous rampage,” police said at a press conference Tuesday night.
The shooter was killed by police after he opened fire.
Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said that one of the victims was the woman the gunman stabbed in January.
School officials heard shots being fired about a quarter-mile away and the school went into lockdown mode, Johnston said. He added the incident “could have been much worse if it wasn’t for the quick thinking” of the school’s staff, who put the school in immediate lockdown mode without instruction from police.
Johnston noted it was “monumental” that school workers took action when they did, because he believes they saved the lives of countless children.
The assistant sheriff said the gunman rammed his vehicle into a school fence, then walked onto school grounds with a semi-automatic rifle while wearing a protective vest.
After being unable to access classrooms due to the lockdown, it’s believed the gunman became “frustrated” and went back to his car, and began shooting at people while driving, according to police.
“This guy was bent on driving by residences and arbitrarily shooting at them,” Johnston said of the gunman. “This guy was on a killing rampage, he was driving up and down the street shooting at passerbys [sic], and uninvolved residences.”
A mother, who said she doesn’t know the gunman but was just driving past him with her three children, was shot. One of the children received a non-life-threatening injury, according to police. However, it’s unclear if she was the victim of a gunshot wound or if she was hit with shrapnel from a bullet-riddled car door.
“This is an individual that armed himself I think with the motive of getting even with his neighbors, and when it went that far, he just went on a rampage,” Johnston added of the shooter, noting he doesn’t think there is any connection to terrorism.
Investigators recovered a semi-automatic riflle, in addition to two handguns. Johnston said there’s another weapon in the suspect’s crashed vehicle which authorities have not yet recovered.
The officer noted there was a restraining order against the shooter, which he said would’ve limited his ability to possess firearms for a period of time, depending on the order.
More than 100 police officers are investigating seven different shooting scenes in the area.
Brian Flint told Record Searchlight newspaper after the incident that his neighbor was the gunman in Tuesday’s deadly shooting.
“The crazy thing 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.” He added the suspect stole his truck.
Witnesses at the school described multiple rounds being fired. Coy Ferreira told KRCR he was dropping off his daughter at the school just before 8 a.m. when he heard a firecracker-like sound. The school’s secretary then ran out and told children to go inside because there was an active shooter. Ferreira said he ended up in a classroom with 14 students and witnessed a boy being struck by bullets.
The Tehama County Sheriff’s Office has asked the Department of Justice to investigate the shooting, Johnston told KRCR. He added the FBI volunteered to investigate, as well.
Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement that he and his wife are “saddened to hear about today’s violence in Tehama County, which shockingly involved schoolchildren. We offer our condolences to the families who lost loved ones and unite with all Californians in grief.”
Vice President Mike Pence tweeted his condolences for the lives lost in the shooting, and said “We commend the effort of courageous law enforcement. We’ll continue to monitor the situation & provide federal support, as we pray for comfort & healing for all impacted.”
Fox News’ Adam Housley and Shira Bush and The Associated Press contributed to this report.