Rancho Tehama, Calif.—The shooting occurred at seven different locations in Tehama County that investigators are still combing through Tuesday night.
Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said he had personally been to four of the seven by Tuesday’s 4 p.m. press conference and he says the gunman was on a mission to kill people at random. He emphasized that this entire incident could have been much worse than what it was.
At 7:55 a.m. authorities say 43-year old Kevin Neal shot and killed two people off Bobcat Lane. The first victim was a woman that authorities say Neal had an ongoing dispute with. In January of this year, he was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon
The second victim was a neighbor, who Neal stole his roommate’s truck.
According to Johnston, Neal drove through the intersection of Rancho Tehama Road and Stagecoach where he passed a mother and her three children in the car, and fired at them.
The woman was severely injured and one child experienced non-life threatening injuries.
"That 911 call transpired into multiple 911 calls of different people reporting shots fired at different locations, essentially on a route to the school," Johnston said.
Meanwhile, staff at the Rancho Tehama Elementary School heard the gunshots from a quarter mile away, and immediately went into lock-down...a move that Johnston is calling monumental.
"This incident as tragic and as bad as it is, could have been so much worse if it wasn't for the quick thinking and staff at our elementary school,” he said.
Police say when he arrived he rammed the stolen truck into the school's fence and entered the elementary school on foot with a multi round semi-automatic rifle.
"He was wearing a load bearing vest that you sometimes see soldiers wear that have clips embedded in the chest," Johnston said.
The gunman wasn't able to get into any of the classrooms since school officials ordered everyone go into lockdown mode.
He then fired about 30 rounds into the school, striking one child that was in one of the classrooms.
"It appears that because he couldn't make access into any of the rooms because they were locked, that he gave up, re-entered the
vehicle, and then went on his killing spree and took it to the streets of Rancho Tehama," Johnston said.
Neal then went back down the road he came on, and on the road purposely crashed into a car. Authorities say when the occupants got out he shot at them, killing the third victim.
A concerned citizen who witnessed the crash pulled over and asked if the gun-man was alright, and it was then that the shooter fired at him, then stealing his vehicle.
"He just went on a rampage, I don't know to describe it to you any differently," Johnston said.
During the press conference Thursday afternoon, Johnston refused to identify the shooter, saying the next of kin still had to be notified.
"He's a bad guy, and I'm not going to glorify him in any manner whatsoever, he attacked my school,” he said.
We are still working on learning where exactly the fourth victim was killed.
Johnston said investigators are still processing the scenes and are trying to beat the rainy weather expected Wednesday before it interferes with the crime scenes.
He also added that Neal does not have an apparent connection with the school.