Murder-suicide in California classroom leaves teacher, gunman husband, and pupil, 8, dead
A teacher and an eight-year-old boy were shot and killed Monday morning at an elementary school in San Bernardino 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, about 10.30 a.m. before taking his own life, according to San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan.
Two students standing behind Smith were also shot, police said. One boy, identified as Jonathan Martinez, was airlifted to Loma Linda Medical Centre, where he was later pronounced dead. A nine-year-old student who was wounded remains hospitalised in stable condition, Burguan said.
The shooting occurred in a special education classroom for students with intellectual disabilities, said San Bernardino Unified School District spokeswoman Maria Garcia. There were 15 students from the first through fourth grades in the room, and two adult aides, Burguan said.
The chief said the couple had only been married for a few months, and he described them as “estranged.” Burguan said Anderson was armed with a high-caliber revolver.
The gunfire was reported at 10.27am in a classroom at North Park Elementary School. 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 until he opened fire.
It is unclear how many shots were fired, Maass said.
“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 gunshots. My teacher told us to get on the ground. Then we started hearing sirens,” the third-grader said.
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.
North Park Elementary is a magnet school for students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade who are interested in environmental issues, according to Garcia. Students take field trips to outdoor areas and do school work “with an emphasis on science activities that nurture creative expression.
Armed security officers are not assigned to district elementary schools, according to Garcia, but security remains “very, very tight” on campus.
“Once the school bell rings, the only way in to the campus is through the front office,” she said.
All district schools maintain ledgers for parents, volunteers and district staff, she said, and everyone is required to show a photo ID and sign in at the front office. The gunman, she said, “followed the check-in protocol.”