Just before 8 a.m. on Nov. 14, Kevin Janson Neal, 44, began a 45-minute rampage in rural Northern California’s Rancho Tehama, a city of about 1,200 people. Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston told reporters the rampage began with two of Neal’s neighbors, who were the first reported dead, and his wife, who was found hidden beneath the couple’s floorboards, shot several times. Neal then drove away, randomly firing a rifle from the vehicle, including some shots at a mother and son en route to school. Both were wounded and Neal drove too far away by the time the mother, a concealed carry permit holder, could draw her pistol. Afterwards, Neal crashed a local school’s gates with his truck and fired on the roughly 100 school students from outside. Two children were wounded, but none killed. Neal, unable to actually enter the school, left looking for other targets. The massacre stopped when police rammed his car and killed Neal in a fierce gunfight. Neal killed five people and wounded nine others. The police are still investigating seven crime scenes from the event.
John Root, a neighbor and survivor, initially thought the gunshots were from target practice and yelled from his porch, “Hey! Don’t make me come down there and take that gun away! It’s 7:30 in the morning!” Soon, it was apparent that the gunfire was not from target practice, and he informed the police. However, by the time the police arrived, the shooting had stopped and Neal had left in a stolen pickup truck. Neal later crashed the pickup truck and carjacked a sedan, continuing his terror.
Sheridan Orr, the shooter’s sister, said Neal had a troubling history with mental illness, paranoia, and frequent outbursts of unwarranted anger—one time getting mad at her for the sound of the washing machine. In March, a court issued a restraining order against Neal and ordered Neal to turn in his firearms. Neal turned in one gun, claiming he had no more. His body was found with one rifle and two handguns, and police found another rifle in his home. Johnston said none of Neal’s guns were legally owned—the rifles were unregistered and “manufactured illegally by him in his home,” while the pistols were registered to another person. As he often shot on his property, some complained to the police, but to no avail. Neal’s violent tendencies continued, and he went on a rampage with charges pending against him for stabbing a neighbor.