Boy, 8, and teacher slain in San Bernardino school shooting; gunman kills himself

A teacher and an 8-year-old boy were shot and killed Monday morning at a San Bernardino elementary school after the teacher’s husband opened fire inside a special needs classroom before turning the gun on himself, police said.

Cedric Anderson, 53, of Riverside entered a classroom at North Park Elementary School and opened fire on his wife, Karen Elaine Smith, 53, about 10:30 a.m., according to San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan. He did not speak, and reloaded the weapon before shooting himself, Burguan said.

Two students standing behind Smith were also shot, police said. The boy, identified as Jonathan Martinez, was flown by helicopter to Loma Linda Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead a short time later, hospital officials said. A 9-year-old student who was wounded remains hospitalized in stable condition, Burguan said.

The shooting occurred in a classroom for students with intellectual disabilities, said San Bernardino Unified School District spokeswoman Maria Garcia. There were 15 students from first through fourth grades in the room, and two adult aides, Burguan said.

The chief said the couple had been married for only a few months, and he described them as “estranged.”

Burguan said Anderson was armed with a high-caliber revolver and had a criminal history that includes arrests for weapons and drug possession, as well as domestic violence. Anderson’s prior domestic violence arrest pre-dated his relationship with Smith, according to Burguan, who did not say if the man legally obtained the revolver used in the shooting.

The gunfire was reported at 10:27 a.m. in a classroom at North Park Elementary School, 5378 N. H Street. San Bernardino Police Capt. Ron Maass said the shooter checked in with school officials before visiting the teacher’s classroom, but no one saw the handgun he was carrying at that time.

Anderson opened fire shortly after entering the classroom, and Maass said he did not believe the children were targeted.

Marissa Perez, 9, was in the classroom when Anderson opened fire. The young girl was still wearing a sweater spattered with blood as she clung to her mother’s hip after they were reunited Monday afternoon, crying as she described the deadly attack.

“The boy just walked in with the gun. He just shot everywhere. I went under the table and then I saw a teacher run out. So I just ran out. My friend and my teacher, they got shot,” Marissa said.

The girl’s mother, Elizabeth Perez, said she was angry at the lack of information coming from the school district. She did not know what her daughter had seen until she arrived at Cajon High School, where students had been evacuated, and her daughter ran toward her.

“Mommy, I still have blood on my sweater,” Marissa said.

Elizabeth, who described Smith as “very kind” and attentive toward her daughter in class, wondered aloud how a gunman was able to gain access to a classroom filled with young children.

Armed security officers are not assigned to any of the district’s elementary schools, including North Park, a magnet school for students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade who are interested in environmental issues, according to Garcia, the school district spokeswoman. Garcia described security on campus as “very, very tight.”

“Once the school bell rings, the only way into the campus is through the front office,” she said.

All district schools require visitors to show a photo ID and sign in at the front office. The gunman, she said, “followed the check-in protocol.”

Anderson gained access to the classroom after telling the school’s office staff that he needed to drop something off to Smith, according to Burguan.

“That’s not uncommon for a spouse to be able to gain access to a campus to meet with their spouse,” he said.

Last summer, the school's leadership went through “threat assessment training,” preparing for the possibility of a shooting near the school or within the building, Garcia said. The teachers followed their training Monday, she said, and had “the majority of the students outside of harm’s way within minutes,” on a grassy area outside the buildings, she said.

The school will remain closed Tuesday and Wednesday, but may temporarily reopen in an alternate location, in part because the building may still be an active crime scene, Garcia said.

“We want to minimize the trauma that not just our students, but our staff, have been exposed to,” Garcia 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 gunshots. My teacher told us to get on the ground. Then we started hearing sirens,” the third-grader said.

Jaidyn said that 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.

Students were evacuated to Cal State San Bernardino’s physical education building, where they could access bathrooms and water, said university spokesman Joe Gutierrez. San Bernardino police also tweeted images of children being given glow sticks and other toys throughout the day, and some parents said their children were allowed to watch movies while they waited to be released.

Parents were directed 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 in kindergarten through 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.

“This is an absolute tragic event,” district Supt. Dale Marsden said. “Our hearts are broken.”

The shooting comes as San Bernardino has seen a major increase in violence, and less than two years after a terror attack at the Inland Regional Center left 14 dead and 22 injured.

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.”

Marsden, the school superintendent, urged parents in San Bernardino to hold their children close tonight and help them understand the day’s violent events.

“Please work with your young child to keep things as normal as possible,” he said. “Be willing to listen to their story, and be willing to listen to their story multiple times.”

One adult and one student were slain and another student was injured Monday morning at an elementary school in San Bernardino; the gunman took his own life, officials said.
Police say Cedric Anderson, left, shot and killed his estranged wife, Karen Smith (San Bernardino Police Department)

San Bernardino elementary school shooting: Teacher, 8-year-old student killed in murder-suicide

A special needs teacher and an 8-year-old boy were shot and killed in a murder-suicide at a Southern California elementary school, police said Monday.

San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said 53-year-old Cedric Anderson walked into North Park Elementary School and opened fire on his wife, Karen Elaine Smith, also 53, shortly before 10:30 a.m. local time before taking his own life.

Two students were wounded in the shooting. One of them, identified as 8-year-old Jonathan Martinez, was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. The other injured student, aged 9, was in stable condition.

Burguan said both students were standing behind Smith when the shooting began, but he does not believe they were targeted. The chief said Anderson had a criminal record, including weapons and domestic violence charges, but said he had no specifics.

The chief said Anderson and Smith had only been married for a few months and had been estranged for at least a month.

"No one has come forward to say they saw this coming," Burguan said.

San Bernardino City Unified School District superintendent Dale Marsden said Anderson was "known to staff" at the school and told workers that he had come to drop something off for his wife before the shooting.

The 600 other students at the school were bused to safety at California State University's San Bernardino campus, several miles away. Television news footage showed students, escorted by police officers, walking off campus hand-in-hand.

As word of the shooting spread, panicked parents raced to the school, some in tears, some praying as they anxiously sought information about their children. They were told to go to a nearby high school where they would be reunited.

Four hours later, the children began to arrive at the high school, getting hugs from emotional parents. As the students got off the buses, many of them carrying glow sticks they had been given to pass the time with, police officers applauded and high-fived them.

When the buses first pulled away, some parents ran alongside, waving and trying to recognize their children inside. Many said their children were too young to have cellphones. Others said the phones rang unanswered.

Among those waiting anxiously at the high school for her 9-year-old granddaughter's return was Alberta Terrell, who said she cried with relief when she was told that a family friend saw the girl getting safely onto a bus.
"I was really elated. But I won't be truly happy until I see her and can give her a big hug," Terrell said as she sat in the bleachers near Cajon High School's baseball diamond.

"It's frustrating for us as parents but also understandable," Holly Penalber said of the long wait, which most parents seemed resigned to.

Penalber's 9-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter attend the school. She called Monday's shootings "every parent's worst nightmare."

San Bernardino, a city of 216,000 people about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, was the site of a December 2015 terror attack that killed 14 people and wounded 22 others at a meeting of San Bernardino County employees. Husband-and-wife shooters Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik were later killed in a gunbattle with authorities.

Monday's shooting was the latest tragedy for a city that has struggled in recent years with more than its share of them. Once a major rail hub and citrus producer, San Bernardino filed for bankruptcy in 2012 after struggling to pay its employees despite steep cuts to the budget.

An outlying suburb of Los Angeles, it was hit hard when the Great Recession sent housing prices tumbling. As the city struggled with economic problems that forced layoffs of police and other government workers, violent crimes, particularly homicide, began to rise.

In the past year, however, the city seemed to be making a recovery. Burguan, who won national praise for the way his department responded to the 2015 shootings, announced last year he was hiring additional officers.

3 dead, including 8-year-old, in apparent murder-suicide at San Bernardino elementary school, police say

Three people are dead, including a teacher and an 8-year-old student, in an apparent murder-suicide at a San Bernardino, California, elementary school Monday, according to police.

The suspected gunman was identified as 53-year-old Riverside resident Cedric Anderson, who went to North Park Elementary School armed with a .357 revolver and opened fire on his wife, 53-year-old Karen Elaine Smith, said San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan at a press conference Monday afternoon.

Anderson and Smith were found dead in a special needs classroom that serves the first through fourth grades, Burguan said. Anderson entered the classroom "without saying anything" before he opened fire, Burguan said. There were a total of 15 students and two aides in the classroom at the time, he added.

Two injured students were initially taken to local hospitals for treatment, Burguan said. One student -- 8-year-old Jonathan Martinez -- has since died from his injuries after being airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center, Burguan said. The other student, a 9-year-old, is now listed in stable condition at the hospital, Burguan said.

The students were not targeted but were standing behind Smith when Anderson opened fire, Burguan said.

Emergency dispatchers began receiving 911 calls reporting shots fired around 10:27 a.m., San Bernardino Public Information Officer Lt. Mike Madden said in a press conference earlier on Monday. San Bernardino police officers were on the scene within seven minutes of the initial call.

Anderson had come to the school as a visitor and signed into the front office, said Capt. Ron Maass, who is leading the investigation for the San Bernardino Police Department. Anderson told the office that he was there to drop something off to his wife, which is "not uncommon," Burguan said. Anderson was a "known person" by school staff, and all the necessary precautionary procedures involving confirming his identity were taken when he arrived at the school, San Bernardino Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Dale Marsden said.

There is no indication that the gun was visible upon the suspect's arrival to the school, Maass said.

It is unclear how many shots were fired or if domestic violence played a role in the shooting, Maass said.

The preliminary investigation shows that Anderson and Smith were estranged, Burguan said, describing their marriage as "relatively short." The pair were only married for a few months and had been separated for about a month, Burguan said. Burguan added that Anderson has a criminal history, which includes weapons charges, accusations of domestic violence and drug charges, though he did not go into specific detail.

Students at the elementary school were taken to the nearby Cajon High School for safety immediately following the incident, Burguan said. All of the uninjured students who were in the classroom at the time of the shooting have since been reunited with their families, Marsden said.

North Park Elementary School will be closed for at least the next two days, Marsden added. The rest of the county's schools will be open. About 500 students attend North Park Elementary.

The shooting triggered a massive police response, with 150 officers from several agencies responding to the scene.

Helicopter footage from ABC Los Angeles station KABC showed students gathered near an exterior fence on campus after the incident. The footage also showed law enforcement canvassing the campus parking lot.

The mother of a fourth-grade student at the school told KABC that she was watching the news when she heard about the shooting and said she "ran right over" to the school to check on her daughter, saying she was "scared to death."

The woman said she could see her daughter on the other side of the fence and said she was "crying" as she held hands with her classmates.

San Bernardino Mayor R. Carey Davis said he received a call from the White House expressing concern for the students and teachers at the school.

San Bernardino was the site of a December 2015 terror attack that killed 14 people and injured 22 others. The mayor said that after that tragedy, the community "came together."

"We did that because too often these incidents are utilized for others to take advantage of," Davis said. "We felt that it was important to not only unite our community but to also ... show that a community short on resources is very resilient and can deal with tragedy and disaster just as effective as" the rest of the country.

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