An active shooter, later identified by family as Kevin Neal, claimed several victims around 8:00 a.m. Tuesday morning in Tehama County, California, about 130 miles north of Sacramento. Gunshots were reported at seven different scenes, including Rancho Tehama Elementary School. The gunman eventually attacked and was killed by police, hundreds of whom had responded to the many reports of gunfire.
The rampage could have been worse, but Rancho Tehama staff heard the gunshots and initiated a school lock-down. No children were killed, but two children were wounded — one at the school and the other in a car on the way to school.
Fox News reports:
“Witnesses at the school described multiple rounds being fired. Coy Ferreira told KRCR he was dropping off his daughter at the school just before 8 a.m. when he heard a firecracker-like sound. The school’s secretary then ran out and told children to go inside because there was an active shooter. Ferreira said he ended up in a classroom with 14 students and witnessed a boy being struck by bullets.”
After ramming a stolen truck through the school gate, Neal attempted and failed to gain access to the classrooms. He eventually gave up and took his rampage to the streets, where he attacked random vehicles as they passed by and homes in the area. While one child was injured at the school, there should be no doubt that the quick actions of Rancho Tehama Elementary staff saved lives. Had classes been open when he arrived, there’s no telling how many children Neal might have murdered.
Authorities still believe the targets, including the school, were chosen at random. However, Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston explained that one of the victims was all too familiar with Kevin Neal’s violence:
Neal was charged with assault with a deadly weapon against a woman in January, and that woman is among the four people killed Tuesday, Johnston said.
Kevin Neal was a known felon with a history of violence and harassing his neighbors. One such neighbor, Brian Flint, told Record Searchlight that the shooter had been firing off hundreds of rounds lately. Living next the gunman was “hell,” according to Flint, who got a call early Tuesday morning that Neal had shot his roommate and stolen his truck:
“The crazy thing is that the neighbor has been shooting a lot of bullets lately, hundreds of rounds, large magazines,” Flint said. “We made it aware that this guy is crazy, and he’s been threatening us.”
Police recovered a semi-automatic riffle and two handguns, weapons that, as a convicted felon, the gunman was prohibited from buying or possessing. Since all federal firearms licensed dealers are required to run a background check on prospective buyers – and are forbidden from selling to felons – Neil did not legally possess his weapons. Either he had them before his conviction and managed to hide them, or he acquired them illegally.
It’s no one’s fault that this man decided to go on a shooting spree but his own. However, one wonders how a known convicted felon with a history of harassing his neighbors — and who had allegedly been reported — managed to remain free, despite being seen shooting off hundreds of rounds of ammo out of guns he wasn’t legally allowed to have.
So far there are five dead, including the shooter, with at least 10 more hospitalized.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated to include newly available information 10:40 Eastern, Nov. 15.