(CNN) A gunman who killed four persons in Northern California rammed a pickup through a locked gate and marched onto the lands of an elementary college, but he could not enter the classrooms, authorities say.
Only another bathroom was open, but it was empty.
Staff at tiny Rancho Tehama Elementary University west of Corning had moved quickly when they heard gunfire near by Tuesday morning, associate Sheriff Phil Johnston said.
They locked the doorways after students dashed inside and crawled underneath their desks.
The shooter could not get inside, and kept six minutes soon after, apparently frustrated.
One pupil was wounded by gunfire and was in stable condition, the school district said. Others were hurt by flying glass.
At least 10 persons were wounded or hurt in the string of shootings in Rancho Tehama, about 125 northwest of Sacramento. The shooter was killed by police.
‘Killing persons at random’
In all, the gunman’s rampage involved seven shooting scenes.
His motive remains unclear, but a dispute with a neighbor found dead Tuesday might have sparked the rampage, authorities said.
“This individual shooter was bent on engaging and killing persons at random. I must say this incident, as tragic and as bad as it is, might have been so very much worse,” Johnston stated, applauding the quick thinking of the school staff.
The gunfire that triggered the alert at the school came when the shooter fired from his vehicle into others on his way to the school, about 2 kilometers from his home.
The killer had a tactical vest with extra magazines, and apparently chose most of his victims at random, sometimes firing at passing motorists, homes and gunning down someone after he purposely crashed into another car.
Wounded victims included a mother driving a vehicle her children to school when the attacker opened up fire. The woman had been treated for life-threatening accidental injuries. A kid who was in the automobile was not seriously wounded, relating to Johnston.
Mom raced back again to school to warn people
A fearless mother may also have helped warn personnel at the school about the danger.
Sara Gonzalez said she had dropped her girl off at the school when the gunman attempted to shoot her when their vehicles passed. She thinks the gunman’s windshield stopped the bullet.
She turned her vehicle around.
“I went to my daughter’s college and started honking, making people know what was going on,” she said.
Gonzalez said the gunman fired at her mainly because she tried to get out to get her gal. She found the man’s face but he said nothing.
Jessie Sanders told CNN affiliate marketer KCRA he tried to pull the gunman’s attention from the school.
He said he ran to the school when he heard the crack of the semi-automatic rifle.
“When I make it happen, the dude was shooting through the windows,” he informed the Sacramento-based station. “And I stated, ‘Hey why don’t you shoot in this manner instead.’ ”
Sanders said a bullet grazed his right forearm.
In the school the children were trying to remain low.
Gonzalez’s girl, Arianna Ibarra, was inside on the floor with her fourth-grade class.
“Our teacher told us to go under our table and keep flat in the event he comes interior,” Arianna said.
The teacher blocked the door with a computer, the 10-year-old said.
Recognized to law enforcement
Johnston said the gunman had “prior contacts with law enforcement.” In January the man was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon in a case that engaged the neighbor who died Tuesday, Johnston said.
Johnston added that the woman had a restraining order against the shooter.
It was unclear whether the gunman went to the school looking for someone he knew.
“We have not connected him with anybody person in the school,” Johnston said.
A semi-automatic rifle and two handguns thought to be employed by the gunman have been recovered, according to Johnston. There is certainly another gun that law enforcement have yet to recuperate in another of the stolen vehicles.