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|November 20, 2017|
Tehama killer: “I get nobody who will help me”
RANCHO TEHAMA RESERVE -The sound of gunfire was in the air, and school officials ordered an immediate lockdown. Their decision most likely prevented what was already a deadly rampage in this rural hamlet southwest of Red Bluff from becoming a bloodbath.
Apparently infuriated by a longstanding dispute with neighbors, a gunman armed with a semi-automatic rifle and two handguns shot four people to death in the tiny community of Rancho Tehama Reserve early Tuesday. Clad in a military-style assault vest capable of storing multiple rounds of ammunition, the man wounded at least 10 others before officers rammed into the stolen vehicle he was driving, shot him and killed him.
The Tehama Sheriff’s Department said the number of fatalities might grow. Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said officials are worried because they’ve had trouble locating several of the gunman’s relatives.
As bad as the spree was, Johnston said he was thankful it wasn’t worse. Although two young boys were shot in the early morning rampage, including one inside Rancho Tehama Elementary School, the assistant sheriff said no students or teachers were killed. He credited school officials with locking down the campus without even waiting for the customary notification from the Sheriff’s Department.
The incident “could have been so much worse if it wasn’t for the quick thinking (of) staff at our elementary school,” Johnston said at a late afternoon press conference. “He couldn’t make access to any of the rooms; they were locked....This saved countless lives.”
Multiple sources told The Sacramento Bee that the dead suspect was Kevin Janson Neal, 43.
Johnston said one of the fatalities was a woman who lived near the suspect and was the victim of a late January assault that ended with the suspect in jail.
Johnston added that he believed the suspect was slapped with a restraining order following the January arrest that would have prevented him from owning firearms for at least a period of time, although he had no details on that.
Neal was initially jailed in late January in the assault case and was being held on $160,000 bail, according to the Red Bluff Daily News. In April the district attorney’s office charged him with assaulting a second woman, also in late January, according to Tehama County Superior Court records.
Gregg Cohen, the Tehama district attorney, told The Bee that his office was prosecuting Neal on charges related to a stabbing and assault with a deadly weapon involving two of his neighbors.
Neal’s mother told the Associated Press that her son called her on Monday, the day before the shooting, and indicated he was fed up with his neighbors, whom he said he suspected of making methamphetamine.
“Mom, it’s all over now,” she said he told her. “I have done everything I could do and I am fighting against everyone who lives in this area....All of a sudden now I’m on a cliff and there’s nowhere to go. No matter where I go for help here, I get nobody who will help me. All they are doing is trying to execute me.”
Story Date: November 15, 2017