Now that things have settled down a bit, we have some more information regarding the shooting in Northern California yesterday morning. First, four are dead, not five as reported by the Los Angeles Times and repeated here. That’s still four more people that shouldn’t have been killed, mind you, so this is still a tragedy.
One student at Rancho Tehama Elementary School was shot. Other students were injured due to broken glass.
The killer has been identified, but Bearing Arms has a policy of not naming mass shooters so as to not feed into the pathology that creates these fame-seeking miscreants.
Individuals on the scene believe that it could have been much worse.
“This individual shooter was bent on engaging and killing people at random. I have to say this incident, as tragic and as bad as it is, could have been so much worse,” [Assistant Sheriff Phil] Johnston said, applauding the quick thinking of the school staff.
The gunfire that triggered the alert at the school came when the shooter fired from his vehicle into others while on his way to the school, about 2 miles from his home.
The gunman’s precise motives were unclear, but a dispute with a neighbor who was found dead Tuesday may have sparked the rampage in which there were seven shooting scenes.
“This is an individual who armed himself, I think with the motive of getting even with his neighbors and when it went that far (that someone was killed) he just went on a rampage,” Johnston said.
The killer apparently chose most of his victims at random, sometimes firing at passing motorists, homes and also gunning down someone after he purposely crashed into another car.
At least 10 people were wounded or hurt in the string of shootings in Rancho Tehama, about 125 northwest of Sacramento.
The gunman had a tactical vest with extra magazines for his guns, Johnston said, who viewed surveillance video of the shooting.
The wounded victims from the spree included a mother who was driving her children to school when the attacker opened fire on them “without provocation or warning,” the assistant sheriff said.
We also know a bit more about the killer than who he is.
For example, we know that a neighbor–one of the deceased–had a restraining order against him.
Johnston refused to confirm the identification, pending notification of family members. But he said one of the fatalities was a woman who lived near the suspect and was the victim of a late January assault that ended with the suspect in jail. Johnston added that he believed the suspect was slapped with a restraining order following the January arrest that would have prevented him from owning firearms for at least a period of time, although he had no details on that.
[The killer] was initially jailed in late January in the assault case and was being held on $160,000 bail, according to the Red Bluff Daily News. In April the district attorney’s office charged him with assaulting a second woman, also in late January, according to Tehama County Superior Court records.
Gregg Cohen, the Tehama district attorney, told The Bee that his office was prosecuting Neal on charges related to a stabbing and assault with a deadly weapon involving two of his neighbors.
[The gunman’s] mother told The Associated Press he was in a long-running dispute with neighbors he believed were cooking methamphetamine.
The mother, who spoke on condition she be named only as Anne, said she spoke with her son Monday.
“Mom it’s all over now,” she said he told her. “I have done everything I could do and I am fighting against everyone who lives in this area.”
Whether his neighbors were cooking anything other than food is unclear, and irrelevant, to be honest. You don’t get to shoot your neighbors because they’re making drugs. You let the police handle that.
Something else we know is that this is someone who should not have been legally allowed to own weapons, at least temporarily. Neighbors stated that they’d notified the authorities about their concerns regarding the killer.
We also know that despite the restraining order, the killer had a semi-automatic rifle and two handguns. In California. You know, the state with some of the toughest gun laws in the country? The state we’ve been told the rest of the nation should emulate on gun control laws?
Guess what didn’t stop a mass shooting?
What did help was the actions of a mother who saw the killer after dropping her daughter off at school, who turned her vehicle around and warned the school what was happening. What also helped was a man trying to draw the gunman’s fire away from the school and toward himself.
It was ordinary people doing extraordinary things that made the difference here.
The quick work of regular folks kept this from being even more horrifying, but laws that were supposed to prevent this didn’t.