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California shooting spree leaves four dead as school lockdown halts further tragedy

A gunman went on a rampage in a small US town, killing four people and injuring at least 10 others. Police say a lockdown at a nearby school prevented an even worse outcome.

A lone gunman opened fire on members of the public after shooting dead a female neighbor in a small town in the US state of California on Tuesday morning. The shooting began at 8 a.m. local time (1600 UTC) at a home in Rancho Tehama Reserve, 210 kilometers (130 miles) northeast of Sacramento.

Four people were killed and nearly a dozen others were wounded, including several children, police said.

Authorities said one of the victims was a neighbor — a woman the gunman was accused of assaulting earlier in the year.

Police received multiple calls that morning regarding a domestic violence incident involving the shooter, Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston told the television station KRCR.

A policeman closes off a road south of Red Bluff (California, USA) on 14.11.2017 after shots were fired (picture-alliance/dpa/The Record Searchlight/J. Schultz)

The shooter stole at least two cars during his rampage

School targeted

The assailant, who has not been identified, then moved onto six other spots, including an elementary school in a nearby town.

Read more:  8 facts about gun control in the US

Authorities said the shooter tried to get into classrooms at the Rancho Tehama School that staff had initiated a lockdown, which prevented more lives being lost.

One parent described being in the school when bullets smashed through the window and hit a student. Coy Ferreira told KRCR that students hid under desks as shots rang out for what seemed like nearly half an hour.

Johnston said two officers then shot dead the gunman, who had stolen two vehicles during his rampage.

"It was very clear at the onset that we had an individual that was randomly picking targets," he told a news conference.

Jim Schultz, a reporter for the Redding Record Searchlight newspaper, cited local resident Casey Burnett, who also said the gunman was "driving around and shooting randomly from his car."

Read more: US gun control: 'Conservatives must say enough is enough'

KRCR reporter/anchor Kelli Saam posted on Twitter after speaking to local residents. 

"One dad told me he blocked the door of his daughter's kindergarten classroom as the gunman fired at Rancho Tehama school," she wrote, before quoting him as saying "I'm 32, I've lived my life. I wasn't going to let him hurt those little kids."

Governor responds

In a statement, California Governor Jerry Brown said 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."

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump appeared to tweet his condolences to the wrong shooting incident late on Tuesday.

"May God be with the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The FBI and Law Enforcement has arrived," he wrote.

Last week, in another mass shooting, a gunman shot dead 26 people at a church in Texas.

Last month, 58 people were killed and more than 500 wounded in a mass shooting by a lone gunman at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip.

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Texas shooting – deranged individual or guns situation?

mm/aw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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