A series of shootings in rural California, including at an elementary school, has left five people dead, including the shooter.
The shooting was likely triggered by a dispute between the suspect and his neighbour, but escalated into what Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston dubbed a “bizarre and murderous rampage,” with the shooter firing at people at random before making his way to a school and firing shots there.
He was later shot dead by police, Johnston said.
No children were killed in the shootings, but at least one was injured.
Johnston said police first received a report of gunshots on a small rural road called Bobcat Lane at around 8 a.m. PT. They were then inundated with calls of shots fired at different locations, that appeared to show the suspect making his way towards the Rancho Tehama School.
School officials heard shots being fired and immediately initiated a lockdown, which Johnston said was a “monumental” measure that was responsible for saving the lives of several children.
Johnston said the shooter fired at the locked classroom doors, injuring at least one child before leaving the school and hijacking a vehicle, which he crashed before shooting at some more passersby at random.
He then hijacked a second vehicle, and was shooting at a motorist when he was engaged by police officers who rammed into his car and forced it off the road.
An exchange of gunfire followed, which ended with the suspect being shot dead by police.
There were seven crime scenes in all, Johnston said.
He confirmed that one of the victims was the suspect’s neighbour, a woman, who had a restraining order against him. The suspect was previously charged with assault using a deadly weapon after an incident involving the woman in January.
“I don’t know any information at this time about any of the victims at the school. I know that we have medivacked a number of students,” Johnston said. “I know the school has been cleared…the children that were attending school are in a safe location.”
Jeanine Quist, an administrative assistant with the Corning Union Elementary School District, confirmed a “number” of students were injured, but no one was killed at the school.
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The shooting didn’t appear linked with a terrorist motive, Johnston said, saying that the suspect “armed himself, I think with the motive of getting even with his neighbours, and when it went that far, he just went on a rampage.”
He said the suspect was armed with a semi-automatic rifle equipped with a multi-round clip, and was wearing a military-style vest.
A witness told KCRA his roommate was among the victims and his neighbour was the alleged shooter.
“The crazy thing is that the neighbour has been shooting a lot of bullets lately, hundreds of rounds, large magazines,” the man told the news station. “We made it aware that this guy has been crazy, and he’s been threatening us and everything. I just feel like there maybe should have been more effort put into stopping things like this.”
Asked about those reports, Johnston said it wasn’t wholly uncommon for people to fire guns in rural areas.
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He said the suspect’s name would be withheld until next-of-kin are notified.
Some relatives of the suspect haven’t been located by police, Johnston said, but added they weren’t considered threats.
—with a file from the Associated Press