California shooting: Gunman′s dead wife found under floorboards a day after rampage | News | DW | 16.11.2017
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California shooting: Gunman's dead wife found under floorboards a day after rampage

The death toll from a shooting spree in a small California town has climbed to six after the body of the gunman's wife was found. The rampage also targeted a nearby elementary school, injuring several children.

The wife of a gunman who went on a shooting rampage in Northern California has been found dead, authorities announced on Wednesday.

Detectives said they found the gunman's dead wife under the floor of their house, a day after he went on a shooting spree in Rancho Tehama Reserve, a small rural community 210 kilometers (130 miles) north of the state capital Sacramento.

Police believe Kevin Janson Neal shot her dead on Monday night, and waited until the next morning to continue his rampage armed with two semi-automatic rifles.

"We believe that is what started this whole event," Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston told a news conference.

Four people were killed and 10 others wounded at several locations in the town and at a nearby elementary school before the gunman was shot dead by police. His rampage lasted for about 25 minutes, authorities said.

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

Two of his neighbors were among those killed; investigators said he then went looking for random victims.

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No children were among the dead, but seven were wounded by gunfire, four of them at the Rancho Tehama Elementary School.

Bigger tragedy prevented

Authorities have praised the quick thinking of school staff, who immediately placed the building on lockdown and prevented Neal from entering the school. Police believe he also intended to kill children.

They said the motive for the assault remains unclear, although it may be linked to a domestic dispute and a history of disagreements with neighbors.

The gunman's sister, Sheridan Orr, said her brother had struggled with mental illness throughout his life and at times had a violent temper.

Read more: 8 facts about gun control in the US

His mother described a longtime dispute with neighbors over alleged drug production in the community, telling The Associated Press that he most likely wanted to get even with them.

Neal's former lawyer has come forward, saying his client had been fired several weeks ago for displaying "bizarre behavior."

Attorney Leo Barone represented him in a previous road-rage case, and again in February after he was charged with stabbing a neighbor.

Court records also show that Neal was barred earlier this year from having guns after the assault.

Tuesday's shooting and similar atrocities have reignited a divisive debate about gun control in the US. The latest incident follows a mass shooting two weeks ago at a church in Texas that left 26 people dead. Last month, a lone gunman targeted concertgoers on the Las Vegas Strip, killing 58 people and injuring 546.

mm/kl (AFP, AP, dpa)

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