CORNING, Calif. - Five people have been killed and multiple have been injured after a mass shooting Tuesday morning in the community of Rancho Tehama, according to Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston with the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s a very sad day for us here in Tehama County,” said Johnston as he addressed the media.
According to Johnston, none of the five people killed were children but one was the shooter, who has been identified as Kevin Janson Neal. Officials are not releasing information about the other four people who were killed at this time.
Johnston added ten patients, including two children, are being treated at Northstate hospitals but their conditions are unknown at this time. In a press conference at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, Johnston added that some members of Neal's family are missing and they have been unable to locate them.
Johnston said several agencies are on the ground in Rancho Tehama actively investigating seven different crime scenes as the shooting spread across many locations, including the Rancho Tehama Elementary School.
Johnston said Neal rammed one of the vehicles he was driving through a school gate, entered the school grounds on foot with a semi-automatic gun with a multi-round clip, and was wearing a vest with clips embedded into it. Johnston added it appears that after Neal realized he was not going to be able to get into the school, he left the school grounds and took his “killing spree” to the streets of Rancho Tehama.
Johnston said Neal had a home on Bobcat Lane and he added they are seeking search warrants for different locations as they continue their investigation.
“This guy was on a killing rampage,” said Johnston.
During a news conference, Johnston hailed school officials, saying they saved countless lives by putting the school on lockdown as soon as they heard the gunshots. Johnston said security video from the school shows the shooter going to the school and shooting in the windows.
Johnston said Neal could not get into the locked school and wound up leaving. This is when Neal began chasing another car, shooting at it, when officers came up on him.
"The suspect was actually shooting at the police vehicle, out the window, the police officer rammed the vehicle, forced it off the road, and exchanged gunfire which resulted in the shooter's death," said Johnston.
According to Tehama County District Attorney Gregg Cohen, Neal was being prosecuted in Tehama County for assault with a deadly weapon and a stabbing that happened earlier this year.
Calls were first received at 7:52 a.m. for shots fired with a man down in the area of Bobcat Lane and Fawn Lane in upper Rancho Tehama reserve. Johnston said directly after that, multiple 911 calls were made, from various sources, indicating shots were being fired at different locations including the elementary school.
Johnston said after the initial shooting at the end of Bobcat Lane, the shooter stole a vehicle and went on a “shooting rampage throughout the community”.
Johnston said at some point, the shooter crashed the first stolen vehicle and then stole a second vehicle from a man. It was while the shooter was driving the second vehicle that he passed by a woman, who was driving her children to school, and began shooting at the vehicle. Johnston said the woman was injured as well as a child in the back seat. The woman suffered “very life threatening wounds” and the child suffered non-life threatening wounds.
Johnston said the shooter then engaged with two responding officers while still in the vehicle and the officers returned fire. This is when the shooter was killed. Both officers were secured from the scene and an officer-involved shooting protocol was initiated.
Johnston said they have no known motive for the shooting and there are no known connections between the suspect and any of the victims. Johnston added most of the victims appear to be random selections.
Johnston said the shooter has had prior contacts with law enforcement and they are looking into those. Johnston said they are also aware of reports of a domestic violence incident with the suspect that took place Monday.
A semi-automatic rifle and two handguns were recovered and Johnston said they believe they were used by the shooter. Johnston added it is unknown if all the weapons were used during the shooting.
Johnston described the shooter as a deranged person bent on shooting and killing as many people as possible.
Coy Ferreira, whose daughters is a kindergarten student at Rancho Tehama Elementary, said he was dropping off his daughter for class just before 8:00 a.m. when he heard what sounded like a firecracker. Ferreira said a school secretary ran out and yelled for the kids to get in the classrooms because someone was shooting at the school.
“I was walking my child to the classroom because they blew the whistle for the first bell, and when that first whistle blew, it sounded like a firecracker went off and we all stopped and were stunned. Then, like a minute later, there were three more shots fired,” said Ferreira.
Ferreira said he ran into a classroom with 14 students and that’s when series of shots began coming through the classroom windows. Ferreira said a young boy was shot in the foot and the chest. When Ferreira spoke to us Tuesday morning, he said the child was alert and talking but as of Tuesday afternoon, family told us the child had been transported to a Sacramento hospital and was in critical condition.
“Within a minute, we were all buckled in our classrooms and all of a sudden there were gunshots going for a good 20-25 minutes. My window was hit by a few shots and a student was injured in my classroom. He got nailed somehow, it happened all so fast,” said Ferreira.
Ferreira said he saw a man who appeared to be 30-40-years-old dressed in camouflage, running away from the school after the shooting. Ferreira added he believes the shooter had to have shot from an elevated ramp in order to see the students who were hiding under their desks.
Tiffany, the owner of Coffee Addiction Coffee Shop located near the school, said she heard 90-100 shots from where she was at during the shooting. Tiffany said she saw a Honda drive by with the windows shot out and saw at least five ambulances responding to the area.
“We heard multiple shots, starting with about ten, and proceeding to about 90 shots, of a high powered some kind of rifle sounding. We heard a man and children screaming from our location, I’m approximately three blocks from the school, I could hear people screaming at the school,” Tiffany said.
Tiffany’s husband, Brian, said another witness reported seeing a white pickup drive through the school gate and start shooting.
Many law makers have issued statements in response to the shooting including Assemblyman Gallagher, State Senator Nielsen, and Assemblyman Dahle.
Governor Jerry Brown:
"Anne and I 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."
Senator Kamala Harris:
"Heartbroken by the news of a shooting at an elementary school in Rancho Tehama. Grateful to the officers and first responders on the scene. I am closely monitoring the situation."
State Senator Jim Nielsen:
“My heart goes out to the victims and loved ones affected by Tuesday morning’s horrific shooting in Rancho Tehama.
“We are heartbroken over this senseless violence, and will be praying for the speedy recovery of those injured and for the emotional peace for those affected.
“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.”
Assemblyman Republican leader Brian Dahle:
“My prayers are with the innocent victims, their families, and those who are hospitalized from the Tehama shooting. Let our Northern California community come together as one for those affected in this horrible time. We are #TehamaStrong.”
“I'm sickened to hear of yet another shooting in our schools. It is senseless and I am frankly tired of it. Our heartfelt prayers are with the victims, their families and the entire North State community.”
Rancho Tehama is a community of about 1,485 northwest of Corning.
This is a developing story, please check back for updates.