Parents were busy dropping their kids off early Tuesday morning at Rancho Tehama Elementary School, a small school in rural Northern California, when the first shot was heard. Almost immediately, two more gunshots cracked through the morning air.
Minutes before school was supposed to start, the secretary made an impulsive decision; to lockdown the school. Nearly 100 parents, students, and teachers were ushered inside. Children were still hurrying into the school when the gunman’s white truck came tearing through the street and crashed into the school gate.
The gunman, Kevin Neal, ‘jumped out with a semiautomatic rifle wearing a vest packed with ammunition’. The head custodian turned around the corner of the building to see where the noise was coming from. Neal raised his rifle and pointed it at the custodian to soon find that his gun was jammed which luckily gave the school enough time to get the last of the students inside and lock all the doors. After the last lock was put into place, the gunman stood at the very place where the children had been playing moments before and started to fire. The gunman stood on the playground and shot at the school for 6 agonizing minutes
One student was sent to the hospital with a gunshot wound in his leg and chest. Many other students and staff were injured by the broken glass. Authorities believed ‘he grew bored from the absence of response and left the school’. Hours before Neal started to shoot up the school he had gone on a rapid rampage about 135 miles north of Sacramento ultimately killing 6 people, one of them being his wife, and injuring several others. Earlier, Neal killed his wife in their own home and buried her body underneath the floorboards. It didn’t seem like he had any motive behind the rampage.
The attacks stopped after an officer rammed Neal’s car and killed him during an exchange of gunfire.
His family had long been worried about his mental health and his multiple run-ins with law enforcement in the past. On the day of the incident, Neal had just gotten out of jail on bail for assaulting a neighbor in January, the neighbor was another victim, among many, as a result of Neal’s rampage. His sister describes the event as a nightmare coming to life, and that their family should’ve spent more time trying to get him the help he needs.