Police think they have a much clearer picture today of the Tuesday’s mass shooting in Northern California.
The shooter has been identified as 43-year-old Kevin Janson Neal.
Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston revealed to the press on Wednesday the first victim seems to have been his own wife.
Police found her body “concealed under the floorboards” of their home. They believe she was killed on Monday; he apparently spent the night trying to cover it up before giving up and beginning a killing spree instead. Johnson elaborates:
“There was a hole cut in the floor… we’re confident that he murdered her, shot her at some point on Monday, and just put her body in the hole in the floor and just covered it up… We believe that’s probably what started this whole event.”
Neal was already scheduled for trial in December for crimes committed earlier in the year; according to reports he shot through a fence at the two women who lived next door, then stabbed one of them. He had been arrested in February for on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, battery, crimes against an elder or dependent adult, and discharging a firearm with gross negligence.
These two neighbors were Neal’s first victims on Tuesday. Johnston explains:
“I think the motive of getting even with his neighbors and when it went that far – he just went on a rampage.”
After that, he stole the slain neighbors’ truck and shot into people’s homes as he drove by. Johnston describes:
“This individual was driving down the road choosing targets. He chased people in the vehicle, shooting at them.”
He shot at a woman bringing her son to school, injuring the child and seriously injuring the mother. She told authorities by the time she pulled her her own firearm, he had already driven away.
When Neal got to the Rancho Tehama school, officials there had already heard the gunshots and were able to lock down the school and keep him from getting inside.
He fired 30 rounds into the school over about six minutes, injuring several children. Then he drove away.
“It is monumental that that school went on lockdown. It would’ve been a horrific bloodbath.”
It was while he was chasing down another vehicle that a police officer rammed Neal’s truck with his patrol car. Cops opened fire, killing him.
So far, Neal’s rampage claimed the lives of five people (not including himself), with nine more injured — seven of which are children. One child is in critical condition.
But Johnston says the count may not be over due to the nature of the rampage and how rural the area is:
“The citizens of Rancho Tehama ├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥ they need to check on each other, they need to check on their neighbors because this individual was literally going up and down the road shooting at random.”
After a thorough investigation, it seems Neal had four weapons in his possession, none legally: an assault rifle and a rifle which were unregistered, and two handguns which were registered in someone else’s name.
Neal had been ordered to hand over any firearms by the court earlier in the year.
[Image via Tehama County Sheriff’s Office.]