On Wednesday, California investigators announced that Kevin Neal, a gunman who killed four people in a series of shootings on Tuesday, may have begun his deadly rampage by murdering his wife. According to Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston, the wife of 44-year-old Neal was found under the floorboards of his home as part of the investigation into the deadly mass shooting in the tiny Northern California community of Rancho Tehama. The shooting spanned at least seven locations in the town, including Rancho Tehama Elementary School. Kevin Neal ultimately shot and killed five people, his wife included, before officers were able to end the carnage by shooting and killing him.
Police now believe that the murder of his wife may have triggered Kevin Neal’s murderous Tuesday rampage.
“We believe that’s probably what started this whole event.”
Authorities say that Neal had had run-ins with law enforcement in the past. The Rancho Tehama shooter was released from custody on bail in January for the charge of assault with a deadly weapon. Assistant Sheriff Johnson added that Kevin Neal was known to be “not law enforcement friendly,” and that officers had been dispatched to his property on more than one occasion due to reports of shots fired.
Rancho Tehama shooting suspect Kevin Neal reportedly began his shooting rampage by shooting his wife and hiding her body under the floorboards of their home sometime Monday night. Then, police say that he killed four people and injured at least 10 more as he traveled across seven or more additional sites throughout Rancho Tehama. His shooting spree began at approximately 8 a.m. Tuesday when he shot and killed a neighbor woman. That victim was known to have a restraining order against Neal, and was involved with his January charge of assault with a deadly weapon, reports CNN.
After killing his wife the night before and hiding her body under his floorboards, then killing his female neighbor, Neal stole a truck and spent the next 25 minutes shooting at seemingly random targets throughout the small town of Rancho Tehama with several weapons, some he’d manufactured himself. He eventually ended up at Rancho Tehama Elementary School. By the time Kevin Neal attempted to attack the school just before classes were scheduled to begin, the campus had been placed on lockdown, teachers and others having been alerted by the sound of gunshots and/or observant parents.
“This guy was bent on… driving by residences and arbitrarily shooting at them.”
When Neal began his assault on Rancho Tehama Elementary School, students had already been ushered inside and hidden low to the ground, often under desks. The building had been locked down. Dressed in a tactical vest and well-armed with weapons and spare magazines, Kevin Neal rammed his stolen truck into a gate and tried to enter the locked school. He was unsuccessful and limited to firing shots through windows and walls. After roughly six minutes, he left the campus “frustrated” after injuring just one student with gunfire. No children were killed in the attack.
“I have to say this incident, as tragic and as bad as it is, could have been so much worse.”
After leaving the school campus, Kevin Neal reportedly deliberately rammed another vehicle with his stolen truck, exited the vehicle, and shot at least one other victim seemingly at random. He then stole another vehicle, this time a sedan, before being confronted, shot, and killed by police in an intersection.
“These firearms were manufactured illegally, we believe, by him at his home. So they (the guns) were obtained in an illegal manner, not through a legal process. They are not registered.”
As USA Today reports, the investigation into Kevin Neal and the Rancho Tehama mass shooting spree is still ongoing. It is believed that the two AR-15 type assault rifles used in the killing spree were manufactured by the shooter at home with parts he’d previously procured. Additional information, including what may have led to the Monday murder of his wife, whose body was found hidden in their home’s floorboards, has not been made publicly available.
[Featured Image by Tehama County Sheriff/AP Images]