Two adults were killed and two students were injured Monday morning at an elementary school in San Bernardino in what officials are describing as a murder-suicide.The students were taken to a local hospital, where they were listed in critical condition, said San Bernardino police Lt. Mike Madden. The male gunman, whose identity was not released, shot and killed a female instructor before he turned the weapon on himself and died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police.
The teacher is believed to be the spouse or girlfriend of the gunman, according to San Bernardino Unified School District spokeswoman Maria Garcia.
“We believe this to be a murder-suicide,” San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan tweeted. “Happened in a class room. Two students have been transported to the hospital.”
Burguan later tweeted: “We believe the suspect is down and there’s no further threat.”
The gunfire was reported at 10:27 a.m. in a classroom at North Park Elementary School, 5378 N. H Street.
The gunman had checked in with school officials earlier that morning before visiting the teacher’s classroom, police Capt. Ron Maass said.
His handgun was not seen until he entered the classroom and “presented the firearm,” the captain said.
The gunman then opened fire on the teacher. Two students near the teacher were hit by gunfire, he said. It is unclear how many shots were fired.
“The children, we do not believe were targeted,” he said.
Jaidyn Stanley, 9, said he was in a different classroom when the shooting happened.
“I was in my class and my teacher was teaching us a lesson, and then I heard three gun shots. My teacher told us to get on the ground. Then we started hearing sirens,” the third-grader said.
© Rick Sforza/Los Angeles Daily News/APEmergency personnel respond to a shooting inside North Park School Elementary School on Monday, April 10, 2017, in San Bernardino, Calif.
© AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu Police officers investigate outside North Park School after a fatal shooting at the elementary school, Monday, April 10, 2017, in San Bernardino, Calif
© AP Photo/Jae C. Hong Nicholas Martinez carries his daughter, Monique, a kindergarten student at North Park Elementary School, on his shoulders after they were reunited at Cajon High School, Monday, April 10, 2017, in San Bernardino, Calif., after a deadly shooting occurred at the elementary school.
Jaidyn said after staying low to the ground for about 30 seconds, his teacher told the class to get up, run and follow her out of an emergency exit that connects directly to the outdoors. He and his classmates left their backpacks behind.
“There was a lot of people in my class crying and they were scared. They thought the shooter was going to come in the classroom,” Jaidyn said.
Jaidyn said once he and his classmates were outside on a soccer field, they were planning to walk to Cajon High School, but he spotted his mother and she scooped him up and took him home.
Immediately after the shooting, the San Bernardino County Fire Department set up a triage area.
School officials said the shooting was “isolated to the campus.” In an email to staff, the school district said: “This is believed to be a case of domestic violence.”
Students were evacuated to Cal State San Bernardino’s physical education building, where they could access bathrooms and water, said university spokesman Joe Gutierrez.
Parents were directed to go to Cajon High School, where officials verified their identities before sending them to Cal State San Bernardino to pick up their children, Gutierrez said.
North Park Elementary has more than 500 students between kindergarten and sixth grade, mostly from low-income Latino families.
Students were huddled on a field at a corner of the school’s campus on Northpark Boulevard and H Street, accompanied by teachers and guarded by law enforcement officers carrying long guns.
Anxious parents such as David Zamudio gathered nearby, but barriers blocked them from reaching their children. Some parents said there was confusion over where to collect their children as information circulated that they should be picked up at either Cajon High School or Cal State San Bernardino.
Zamudio, the father of a 6-year-old in second grade at North Park, said he lives nearby and heard helicopters overhead. He rushed to the school when his sister called saying there had been a school shooting.
“I came because they said it was safer, more isolated. But I guess it’s not that way,” said Zamudio, who recently moved to the area from Highland.
In a statement on Twitter, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said: “ My heart and prayers go out to the victims of today’s horrible act in #SanBernardino & to the whole North Park Elem. School community.”
According to the state’s new school rating system, North Park earns high marks for suspending less than 1% of its student body. The school was deemed yellow — average on the state’s color-coded grading scheme — for academics. In both math and English, students scored below the bar for proficiency, but in math, their scores grew significantly over the course of one year.
The school will be closed for the next two days as detectives continue their investigation, said district Supt. Dale Marsden.
“This is an absolute tragic event,” he said. “Our hearts are broken.”
The shooting comes as San Bernardino has seen a major increase in violence.
There were 62 slayings in San Bernardino in 2016 — a 41% increase from the year before. It was the deadliest year in the city since 1995.
The violence is an open wound on a city trying to recover from a prolonged bankruptcy and the 2015 terror attack.
On Monday, Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands) issued a statement in response to the shooting, saying he was “devastated” and that “this is like a punch to the gut of our community.”
“We will learn more in the coming hours and days about how today’s events came to pass,” Aguilar said. “But there are some things that we know now: This is a tragedy for our community and there are children, teachers, staff and families who will be dealing with what happened today for a long time. As we have done before, we need to come together to support those affected and rededicate ourselves to ending gun violence in our community.”
(Los Angeles Times)