A 53-year-old man who gunned down his estranged wife and a special needs student Monday in a San Bernardino elementary school classroom was a Riverside resident with a criminal record.
Cedric Anderson walked into a classroom occupied by 15 children at North Park Elementary School and opened fire at about 10:30 a.m., instantly killing 53-year-old Karen Elaine Smith and mortally wounding 8-year-old Jonathan Martinez, according to San Bernardino police Chief Jarrod Burguan.
A 9-year-old boy, whose identity was not released, also was struck by gunfire but is listed in stable condition at Loma Linda University Medical Center, Burguan told reporters during a news briefing.
“Mr. Anderson entered the classroom and opened fire on his wife. She was killed,” the chief said. “There were two students behind her, and they were both shot. After that exchange, the suspect turned the gun on himself and killed himself.”
Burguan said the murder-suicide happened “very quickly,” but noted that Anderson took time to reload his .357 revolver handgun before turning it on himself.
The chief said there was nothing to indicate that the Riverside man intended to shoot Jonathan or the other student — each of whom appeared to be collateral casualties of the attack on Smith.
Victim in school shooting identified as Karen Smith, age 53, estranged wife of suspect. pic.twitter.com/IaC7RCtVhl
— San Bernardino PD (@SanBernardinoPD) April 10, 2017
According to the chief, the class served special needs children and had two teacher’s aides present at the time, neither of whom were injured. Smith was the primary instructor.
There was no word on what may have triggered the attack, though Burguan confirmed that Anderson and Smith had been in the process of separating for the last month.
“The couple were estranged, and the marriage was short, only a few months,” Burguan said. “Nobody came forward to say they saw this coming.”
According to the chief, North Park Elementary School is a “secure location,” and Anderson was not able to walk onto the campus and make a beeline for the victim’s classroom.
“He told the main office that he was dropping something off for his wife,” the lawman said. “That is not uncommon.”
Burguan estimated that upwards of 150 law enforcement officers converged on the elementary school campus in the minutes following the attack.
Anderson’s Orangecrest-area residence was raided by police within a couple hours of the shooting. Burguan said no threats were identified at the property, which is located within a gated community. He said the shooter may have another home in the Bakersfield area, and the investigation was continuing.
According to Burguan, Anderson has been in trouble with the law in the past, stemming from domestic violence and weapons, as well as drug-related, offenses. A search of Riverside County Superior Court records, however, did not reveal any serious convictions for anyone with the shooter’s name. No serious convictions turned up during a search of San Bernardino County Superior Court records either.
According to San Bernardino Mayor Carey Davis, a spokesman for President Donald Trump contacted him to express sympathy and offer assistance if needed.
San Bernardino Unified School District Superintendent Dale Marsden said the North Park campus will be closed for the next two days to give investigators time to complete their work and students and staff time to recover emotionally.
“We are deeply saddened by today’s tragic incident,” Temecula Valley Unified School District Superintendent Timothy Ritter said in a statement in response to the shooting. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the staff, students and families directly affected by today’s tragedy. This is a day we pray never happens.”
Ritter said the San Bernardino attack highlights why “we have safety and security procedures in place at all campuses.”
“It’s a top priority for TVUSD. We have a very strong partnership with (law enforcement) and work collaboratively in times of an emergency. We also have communication protocols in place to notify families through a variety of methods.”
— City News Service
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