Breaking News
More () »

Gunman dead after killing 6, injuring others in Tehama County

Tehama County Undersheriff Phil Johnston confirmed two children were shot and wounded, but said children were not among the dead.

(REDDING, CA.) Six people are dead, including the suspect, now identified as Kevin Janson Neal and his wife, in a mass shooting at and around a school some 15 miles southwest of Red Bluff, where at least 10 other victims have been hospitalized — some of them children.

Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston, who called the incident a "bizarre and murderous rampage," confirmed two children were shot and wounded in the shooting at Rancho Tehama subdivision, but said children were not among the dead. He said it appeared the motive for the shooting "looks like a guy trying to get even with his neighbor."

Johnston said one child was shot at the school, while a second child was in a car with his mother when the gunman opened fire. The child's wound was not life-threatening, but the mother's injuries are, he said.

"It's a very sad day for us in Tehama County," a deputy, visibly shaken, said earlier in the day.

The gunman, who still hasn't been identified, shot both inside and outside Rancho Tehama Elementary School, Johnston said.

At least three weapons were used in the shooting, Johnston said. Johnston said there was another gun found in the pickup the shooter was driving.

Tehama County Superintendent of Schools Rich DuVarney there were no student or staff fatalities.

The 10 shooting victims were taken to various hospitals around the North State: Three to Mercy Medical Center in Redding, two to St. Elizabeth Community Hospital in Red Bluff and five — three of whom have been treated and released — to Enloe Medical Center in Chico, employees at those hospitals said. One of those patients has since been transferred to UC Davis Medical Center, a spokesperson there said.

The rampage began shortly after 8 a.m. near Bobcat and Fawn lanes where the suspect shot two people dead and stole a car. The suspect crashed the car, and a man stopped to ask whether the suspect was OK, Johnston said. The suspect shot at that man but didn't hit him. The suspect did steal his vehicle.

Officials at Rancho Tehama School a quarter of a mile away heard the shots and immediately went on lockdown. The school was the shooter's third stop, and the suspect became frustrated when the shooter couldn't get into the school, Johnston said. The suspect shot 20 to 30 rounds at the school, and went into a bathroom, the only part of the school not locked down.

The suspect was at the school for six minutes, then drove off and continued to shoot at people in various parts of the community, including at a pickup with a woman and two kids inside. The woman was seriously injured, and one child received minor injuries.

Law enforcement saw the suspect shooting at the pickup and gave chase, ramming the vehicle, forcing it off the road, and then two deputies killed the suspect in a shootout. Johnston said the deputies, who weren't injured, found the gunman dead inside a car. They also found the semiautomatic rifle and two handguns they say the suspect used. A second long gun was also recovered. One of the long guns appeared to be an AR-15, Johnston said.

The entire incident lasted 45 minutes.

There were at least 100 law enforcement officers on site processing seven or more crime scenes. The FBI also "is sending some teams up to assist at the request of Tehama County authorities," said Jason Wandel, chief division counsel at the FBI's Sacramento field office.

The suspect

The exact motive may remains unclear, but officials at the press conference said the suspect had a history of problems with neighbors.

Johnston said the suspect also was involved in a domestic violence situation Monday and, a few months earlier, a stabbing.

The suspect had been arrested in January for stabbing a woman and robbing another woman, both of who later got a restraining order against the suspect. Johnston said the woman the suspect stabbed was killed in Tuesday's rampage. The suspect was released on $160,000 bail after that arrest.

Prosecutors also alleged the suspect fired a gun - possibly an AR-15 Bushmaster rifle - during the attack, according to court documents. The rifle was specifically mentioned as illegal in a criminal complaint filed earlier this year.

Court records also show the suspect had misdemeanor hit and run case in 2013.

The scene described

Resident Salvador Tello said he was taking his three children to Rancho Tehama Elementary School when the gunman fired at a truck in front of him.

Tello saw bullets hit the truck in front of him, so he made his children get down and put his truck in reverse.

As he left, Tello said, he saw a woman lying dead in the street with her husband next to her, apparently wounded.

Jose Garcia, who owns the La Fortuna Market about a half-mile from the school, also said he heard "a lot of shooting" near the school shortly after 8 a.m.

Children among the gunshot victims

Deputies helped transport a busload of children from the school to the Rancho Tehama Association.

Rosie DeOliveira, administrative assistant at the association, said deputies instructed residents to "shelter in place," stay indoors and stay low.

"Our doors are locked," she told the Record Searchlight Tuesday morning.

Also earlier in the day, a helicopter medical crew reported they were transporting a 6-year-old victim to Mercy Medical Center in Redding. The child had two gunshot wounds, according to emergency scanner traffic.

A second child also was reported to have been shot in the right leg, according to emergency dispatch reports.

A 30-year-old man was taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the right thigh, according to emergency dispatch reports.

It isn't the first time the school had a gun scare.

In December 2015, a then-43-year-old woman was arrested after a school employee called law enforcement because she allegedly was walking around with a sawed-off shotgun. The woman also was arrested, in part, because deputies said they found a stolen pickup in her yard

Living next to alleged gunman was 'hell'

The Rancho Tehama Reserve — an isolated rural subdivision home to about 1,485 people — is described on its website as a “quiet private country community” located 12 miles west of Interstate 5 between Red Bluff and Corning.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it was 86.3 percent white in 2010 and had a poverty rate of 43 percent.

The property the suspect lived at is a collection of mobile homes scattered around a home. Google Earth images show numerous marijuana grows in the neighborhood.

Resident Brian Flint said he got a call in the morning that his roommate was injured and that his truck had been stolen. It turned out his neighbor was the gunman, Flint said.

“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.”

Living near the gunman was "hell," Flint said, adding the man often harassed him and his neighbors.

Katrina Gierman, who lives near the elementary school, said she heard gunshots when she went outside.

"I have not left my house because I am with my newborn son," Gierman said. "Very scary moment."

"I have the right to bear arms, and I will protect my son if I have to," she said.

Joseph Raven was doing tile work with a co-worker at a home in Rancho Tehama when the shooting started.

"We heard the bullets fly right next to our ears," Raven said. That's when Raven said, "'We need to get inside. ... There were screams. A female screaming. A male screaming. There were helicopters all over the place."

Politicians react to 'senseless violence'

Politicians started weighing in on the shooting Tuesday, including Vice President Mike Pence.

"Saddened to hear of the shooting in N. California, the loss of life & injuries, including innocent children," Pence wrote on Twitter. "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."

Meanwhile, Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement on his website that he was "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," the statement reads.

California Senator Jim Nielsen, who oversees the area of the shooting, said in a statement that his "heart goes out to the victims and loved ones affected by Tuesday morning’s horrific shooting in Rancho Tehama," calling the incident "senseless violence."

“We ... will be praying for the speedy recovery of those injured and for the emotional peace for those affected," the statement reads. “We lift up in prayer those killed and wounded, their families and loved ones, and the first responders and others who put their lives on the line to protect and save innocent lives.”

U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa, whose district also includes Rancho Tehama, wrote on Facebook that people should "pray for the ugly situation in Rancho Tehama, west of Corning as a shooting this morning has several victims with the shooter already put down too."

Before You Leave, Check This Out