Crime & Justice

Rancho Tehama shooting: At least 4 people killed at multiple locations

Law enforcement officials killed the shooter who murdered three people and left several others dead Tuesday. One of the many sites of the shooting was the elementary school in Rancho Tehama Reserve.
Law enforcement officials killed the shooter who murdered three people and left several others dead Tuesday. One of the many sites of the shooting was the elementary school in Rancho Tehama Reserve.
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A shooter in Northern California has killed at least four people in a violent rampage that began at a home and ultimately included seven locations, including an elementary school, officials say.

The shooter was killed by police, bringing the total death toll to five. Ten people have been hospitalized, authorities say.

At least two children are among the wounded — a student at Rancho Tehama Elementary School in Tehama County was shot, and another child was shot in a truck along the road, according to county Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston. A woman driving the truck was also shot; all three are being treated.

Authorities say the gunman tried to get into rooms at the elementary school with the intent of shooting children but that workers initiated a lockdown that saved lives.

Johnston says school officials heard shots being fired and immediately locked down Rancho Tehama School.

He says it was "monumental" that school workers took the action they did and there is no doubt in his mind they saved the lives of countless children.

Enloe Medical Center in Chico tells NPR they have received five patients, three of whom have been treated and released.

The first calls about the shooting came in shortly before 8 a.m. local time on Tuesday, Johnston told reporters. The first calls described a shooting on Bobcat Lane; calls from multiple other sites soon came in, including the elementary school.

The suspect took a vehicle from Bobcat Lane, started shooting, and then crashed the vehicle. He then stole a second vehicle and was shooting once again when two law enforcement officers killed him.

The subject appeared to be "randomly picking targets," and no motive has been identified, Johnston said.

He said the suspect, whose name has not been released, was involved in a "domestic violence incident" reported by neighbors before the shooting.

Authorities say one of the four victims was a neighbor he was accused of assaulting in January.

Johnston says the neighbor had a restraining order against the gunman. He says the neighbor was a woman but gave no other details.

A "semi-automatic rifle and two handguns" were recovered from the shooting scene, Johnston said.

NPR's Nate Rott spoke to resident Tiffany Rodgers, who says she knows almost every student at the elementary school and heard the shooting from a nearby cafe.

Rodgers told Nate that she could hear "over 100 rounds go off" and heard screaming.

The shooting is "just devastating" for the small, tight-knit community, she says.

Reporter Sara Stinson, calling Action News Now from the police roadblock, told the news channel there is a shot-up, taped-off truck on the road, and several worried parents unable to get past the roadblock and struggling to find a cell phone signal.

The Redding Record Searchlight spoke to several witnesses, including one man who told his children to take cover:

"Rancho Tehama resident Salvador Tello said he was taking his three children to school when the gunman fired at a truck in front of him.

"He said he saw bullets hit the truck in front of him, so he made his children get down and put his truck in reverse.

"Tello said that, as he left, he saw a woman lying dead in the street with her husband next to her, apparently wounded."

Law enforcement officers from a range of agencies have responded to the incident, including highway patrol and the FBI. Johnston said there were more than 100 officers helping cover the multiple scenes.

"It's a very sad day for us here in Tehama County," he told Action News Now, tearing up.

Rancho Tehama Elementary is a small school, serving students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. There are just four teachers on staff; each teaches at least two grades, according to the school newsletter.

Tehama County is a rural community about a hundred miles north of Sacramento. The largest town in the county, Red Bluff, has a population of about 14,000, according to the Census Bureau.

Gov. Jerry Brown issued a statement offering condolences to families who lost loved ones in "today's violence in Tehama County, which shockingly involved schoolchildren."

Vice President Mike Pence said he was "deeply saddened" to learn of the shootings.

Pence praised "courageous" law enforcement officers responding in Tehama County. He said the Trump administration will continue to monitor the situation and will provide federal support to local officials.

He said on Twitter: "We pray for comfort & healing for all impacted."

This story has been updated.