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Police: California gunman also killed wife in rampage that left five dead and nearly a dozen injured

Five people were killed and nearly a dozen were wounded, including several children, when a gunman went on a rampage Tuesday at multiple locations, including a school in rural northern California. (Elijah Nouvelage/AFP/Getty Images)

A Northern California gunman, whose "bizarre and murderous rampage" on Tuesday left five dead and nearly a dozen injured in Rancho Tehama Reserve, was bent on killing and shooting people at random, Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said during a news conference.

The suspect, Kevin Neal, who was identified by authorities Wednesday, died in a shootout with police, CNN reported.

On Wednesday, police found Neal's wife shot dead under the floor of their home. Authorities said they believe Neal killed his wife Monday.

The 45-minute shooting spree that included an elementary school was spread across two miles of the rural county, TheBlaze reported. Tehama County sits about 100 miles north of Sacramento.

No children were killed during the rampage.

Seven children were injured, police said during a news conference Wednesday. One child is in critical condition.

School officials who heard shots being fired nearby sent the school into lockdown mode before the gunman arrived, Johnston said, adding that the incident "could have been much worse if it wasn't for the quick thinking" of the school's staff. Johnston called it "monumental" that the school workers took action when they did because he believes it saved the lives of countless children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What happened?

• Shortly after 8 a.m., the gunman shot two people dead in his Rancho Tehama neighborhood and stole an unoccupied F-150 pickup.

• He crashed the truck, and a man stopped to ask whether he was OK. The gunman shot at that man but missed. Then he stole the man's car. 

• The shooter's third stop was the Rancho Tehama Elementary School where he rammed the stolen car into the school's fence. He got out, wearing a protective vest, and walked onto the school grounds carrying a semi-automatic rifle. One child was hit by a bullet that entered the classroom. The child's injuries are not life-threatening.

• The gunman got frustrated when he couldn't get into the locked school, and he sprayed 20 to 30 rounds at the building.

• After about six minutes, he got back in the vehicle and drove away from the school but continued shooting at people throughout the community.

• He fired at a pickup with a woman and two children inside, CNN reported. One child suffered minor injuries and the mother was seriously injured.

Police witnessed the suspect shooting at the pickup and a chase ensued. The officers rammed the vehicle and forced it off the road.

• Two deputies killed the gunman in a shootout, authorities said during the news conference. The officers found the shooter dead inside the car.

• Investigators recovered a semi-automatic rifle and two handguns, the Los Angeles Times reported. A third weapon was discovered in the suspect's crashed vehicle. 

What was the gunman's motivation?

The gunman's mother, who identified herself only as Annie, told The Associated Press that her son was recently feeling frustrated by an ongoing feud with his neighbors. 

One day before the shooting, the killer called his mother and said "it's all over now," the AP reported.

Annie said her son "claimed his neighbors were running a methamphetamine lab with fumes that were harming his nine dogs."

Police believe it was the feud that may have fueled the spree, CNN reported. 

"I think the motive of getting even with his neighbors and when it went that far — he just went on a rampage," Johnston speculated.

Did the shooter have a record?

Annie told the AP that she posted $160,000 bail for her son in January. Neal was charged with stabbing one of the neighbors.

The gunman's mother said Neal grabbed a steak knife out of the hand of a neighbor "who was threatening him with it." The neighbor was slightly injured, she said.

What does the shooter's family have to say?

Neal's sister, Sheridan Orr of Raleigh, North Carolina, told the Times that her 44-year-old brother had struggled with mental illness for a long time.

Orr said the family tried to help her brother and "would even call authorities, hoping they would intervene."

"Getting him to get straight has been my mother's life work," the suspect's sister said, according to the Times. "And this is, I can't even imagine what it's like for her."

Neal was paranoid, often spoke about government conspiracies, and had sudden episodes of unwarranted anger, Orr added. 

"There are certain people that do not need guns and my brother was clearly one of them," she said. "He had no business owning a gun. Zero."

It is not immediately clear how Neal came into possession of the firearms.

Orr and Annie told the Times they are saddened and trying to make sense of Neal's actions.

"Make sure that you tell people this: Let them know our hearts are broken for that community and the families," Annie told the Times.

One last thing…
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