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Officials: At least 4 dead after gunman 'randomly picking targets' goes on shooting rampage

Officials: At least 4 dead after gunman 'randomly picking targets' goes on shooting rampage

At least 2 children shot, injured
Officials: At least 4 dead after gunman 'randomly picking targets' goes on shooting rampage
Photographer: Shutterstock

Authorities said at least four people were killed Tuesday morning in Northern California after a gunman shooting at random opened fire at an elementary school and several other locations.

At least two children were shot and injured, one of them at the school, police said. The gunman was then killed by law enforcement officers who responded to the carnage unfolding across what police described as a "very widespread area."

This latest active shooting to terrorize a community began shortly before 8 a.m., Phil Johnston, an assistant sheriff in Tehama County, told reporters.

Police received "multiple 911 calls of multiple different shooting sites, including the elementary school" in Rancho Tehama Reserve, a small area about 135 miles north of Sacramento, he said.

"It was very clear early on that we had a subject that was randomly picking targets," Johnston said.

Johnston said police did not immediately know what may have motivated the attack, which stretched across at least seven locations. Police have not officially confirmed the shooter's identity, Johnston said, but he added that this person was previously known to law enforcement.

While details about what led up to the shooting were unclear, he said authorities were told by neighbors that "there was a domestic violence incident" involving the suspected attacker. Johnston also said there was an ongoing "neighborhood dispute" involving the attacker, who had a residence in Rancho Tehama.

"It's a very sad day for us here in Tehama County," Johnston said.

No children were killed in the rampage, Johnston said, but at least two were injured. One child was shot and wounded at the school. Another child was shot in a truck "that was driving down the road along with a female adult," Johnston said. Both children were among those taken to area hospitals.

Johnston said that there were "no warnings" before the shootings, saying that one woman was driving her children to school when the gunman "engaged her vehicle." He did not specify if this was the same woman driving in the truck with the child who was wounded.

Johnston said "a number of students" were medically evacuated from the area, while the school was cleared.

The ages of those killed and wounded were not immediately released by authorities.

Enloe Medical Center said it had five patients from the shooting, three of whom were treated and released Tuesday. Two remained hospitalized by the afternoon, according to a spokeswoman for the hospital. While their ages were not immediately available, the hospital had said earlier in the day it was treating at least three children.

After the shooting, Johnston said police recovered a semiautomatic rifle and two handguns believed to be used by the shooter.

The shooting rampage in California comes on the heels of recent mass shootings that erupted at other seemingly safe places across the country. Last week in Texas, a gunman attacked a small church outside San Antonio during Sunday morning services, killing 26 people and injuring 20 others.

A month earlier, a gunman in a high-rise Las Vegas hotel suite opened fire on the crowd at a country-music festival far below, killing 58 and injuring hundreds more in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

This latest public shooting occurred in Rancho Tehama Reserve, a rural subdivsion described on its website as "a quiet private country community in the heart of Tehama County, California."

Gov. Jerry Brown, D, said in a statement that he and his wife were "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."

The FBI said it was sending teams to help local authorities respond to the shooting, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it was dispatching special agents to the scene as well.

After the gunfire, worried parents were trying to get to their children at the school, according to a reporter with Action News Now, a local news operation.

A school official in California confirmed on Tuesday that there were injuries following the shooting but did not immediately provide further information.

"There was an active shooter out there earlier this morning," said Jeanine Quist, an administrative assistant with the Corning Union Elementary School District. "There were some confirmed injuries.

"We are cooperating with local law enforcement — we don't have any confirmed information at this point," but a statement from the superintendent will be forthcoming when more is known, she said.

Quist said about 10:30 a.m. local time that parents were able to get to the school to see their children.

The Washington Post's Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.

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