Official: Calif. Shooter's Wife Found Dead, 'Concealed Under The Floorboards'
Investigators in Tehama County spent much of the day Tuesday looking for the wife of a man who was shot dead by law enforcement after going on a rampage in a small northern California town, killing five and injuring nine others.
Ultimately, her's was the final death attributed to gunman Kevin Janson Neal. Her body was found beneath floorboards in his Rancho Tehama Reserve home, Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said at a press conference Wednesday. Neighbors told investigators Tuesday that they believed there was a domestic violence incident at Neal's home the day before.
Johnston said investigators believe she was killed Monday.
"We believe that's probably what started this whole event," Johnston said.
It's not clear what happened in the hours between when officials say Neal murdered his wife and began his shooting spree at 7:54 a.m. Tuesday, but Johnston said Neal's attempt to cover up his wife's body was apparent.
"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," Johnston said.
The shooting rampage spanned seven scenes. The first two people Neal shot and killed were neighbors before he stole their truck and sought seemingly random victims elsewhere, including an elementary school, where he was locked out.
A total of six people died, including Neal, who was shot and killed by police, and nine were injured, including seven children, Johnston said. Four of the children were at the school during the incident, and suffered injuries "ranging from very minor to life threatening," Johnston said.
One child remains in critical condition.
"This individual was driving down the road choosing targets. He chased people in the vehicle, shooting at them," Johnston said.
Sarah Gonzales had just dropped off her daughter at Rancho Tehama Elementary School when the gunman blocked her car, CBS News correspondent Jamie Yuccas reports.
"He pretty much stopped me and shot at me three times through his windshield," Gonzales said.
When he stopped firing, she said he continued toward the school. School officials heard gunshots and made a critical decision to lock it down.
"The quick action of those school officials, there is no doubt in my mind, saved countless lives," Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said.
The gunman tried to enter the school but couldn't get in. He fired about 30 rounds in six minutes before he took off.
A short time later, a patrol car rammed the suspect's vehicle. Officers then opened fire and killed him.
Neal had been charged with stabbing one of the slain neighbors in January, and Neal's mother told the Associated Press she posted the $160,000 bail for him and had spent over $10,000 on lawyer's fees. Neal had been involved in a long-running dispute with his neighbors, the woman said.
The mother, who spoke on condition she be named only as Anne because she fears for her safety, said her son told her the neighbor was slightly cut after Neal grabbed a steak knife out of the hand of the neighbor who was threatening him with it.
The head of the area's homeowners association said neighbors had been complaining about Neal firing guns excessively on the property, which sits at the end of a dirt road.
The mother wept as she told The Associated Press she spoke to Neal on the phone on Monday.
"Mom it's all over now," she said he told her. "I have done everything I could do and I am fighting against everyone who lives in this area."
She said Neal apologized to her during their brief conversation, she thought for all the money she had spent on him, saying he was "on a cliff" and the people around him were trying to "execute" him.
"I think the motive of getting even with his neighbors and when it went that far - he just went on a rampage," Johnston said.