“There was a lot of people in my class crying and they were scared,” third-grader Jaidyn Stanley said
A teacher and a young boy died Monday after a man with a handgun started shooting inside a classroom at a Southern California elementary school, in what police say was a “murder-suicide.”
The shooting started inside a classroom at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino, 55 miles due east of downtown Los Angeles. Police and emergency personnel responded to the incident within minutes and found two adults dead inside one of the classrooms.
Two children were also wounded in the gunfire and flown by helicopter to an area hospital. One of the students, 8-year-old Jonathan Martinez, later died from his injuries. The other student, a 9-year-old boy, remains in critical condition, officials said.
“Tragedy has again befallen our city,” San Bernardino Police Lt. Mike Madden said at a news conference Monday.
Authorities identified the gunman as Cedric Anderson, 53. The dead teacher, Karen Elaine Smith, was his wife. Police said Anderson had checked in with school officials before going to the classroom, which held a class for students with intellectual disabilities. There were 15 students from first through fourth grades in the room at the time, along with two adult aides.
The students were wounded because they were near the teacher when the shooting started, officials said. Police don’t believe they were targeted.
San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said Anderson and Smith, 53, had only been married for a few months and were separated.
“I was in my class and my teacher was teaching us a lesson, and then I heard three gun shots,” third-grader Jaidyn Stanley, 9, said. “My teacher told us to get on the ground. Then we started hearing sirens.
“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.”
Students at the school were evacuated to the nearby campus of Cal State San Bernardino, where they were picked up by their parents.
A number of parents were visibly flustered at the scene as they awaited the arrivals of their children.
“You could see the stress on their face but most of the kids were smiling. I guess they didn’t know what was going on,” parent Lewis Roman told a reporter.
“I came [to San Bernardino] because they said it was safer, more isolated. But I guess it’s not that way,” parent David Zamudio told the Los Angeles Times.
Authorities from the San Bernardino Police Department, California Highway Patrol, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office and school police responded to the shootings.
“My heart and prayers go out to the victims of today’s horrible act in San Bernardino and to the whole North Park Elementary School community,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a statement. “I ask everyone to join me in keeping the victims and all those impacted by today’s senseless violence in your prayers.”
North Park Elementary is just seven miles northwest of the city’s Inland Regional Center, where 14 people were killed in a domestic terrorist attack in December 2015. The city saw a 41 percent increase in homicides in 2016, the deadliest year in more than two decades.