On Tuesday, a man by the name of Kevin Neal opened fire in Rancho Tehama, Northern California, approximately 130 miles north of Sacramento. Neal murdered his wife, hid her body under the floor and then went on a shooting spree, killing another four people.
He opened fire near an elementary school, and according to Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston, it “could have been so much worse if it wasn’t for the quick thinking” of the staff of the elementary school. Johnston said that the staff members heard the distant gunshots and locked down the school, before the police had told them to do anything at all. The shooter “rammed their fence and gate, entered the grounds on foot with a semi-automatic rifle” with a “load-bearing vest.” It seems as though he found the doors to be locked (due to the quick thinking on the parts of the school’s staff) and got back into his vehicle and then “went on his killing spree and took it to the streets of Rancho Tehama.”
He was subdued, shot and killed by police officers.
Neal was not actually authorized to have firearms–in January he had fired a weapon at two female neighbors, stabbed one and taken the other hostage. He made bail for $160,000 and continued to harass these neighbors, so they got a Civil Harassment Restraining Order against him. By federal law, anyone with a restraining order in the state of California cannot legally “own, possess, buy or try to buy a firearm.” If you do own a firearm, you “will have to sell it to a licensed gun dealer or turn it in to law enforcement, and file proof with the court.”
One of these neighbors was one of the first to be killed along with Neal’s wife.
Johnston said that, “These firearms were manufactured illegally, we believe, by him at his home. So they were obtained in an illegal manner, not through a legal process. They are not registered.” The specifics of how he acquired these parts and/or put together these weapons is not known at this time.
This shooting comes after the shooting in Sutherland Springs, TX, where the shooter also should not have legally been able to acquire a firearm. However, due to an administrative error, the disqualifying case against him did not make it from the military to the civilian authorities. These past two shootings have stirred up controversy over whether or not stricter gun laws would even be effective if it seems that authorities are not able to enforce the ones currently in place.
Featured image courtesy of Tehama County Sheriff, via AP Images