Police provided updates in a news conference one day after a man opened fire inside a San Bernardino elementary school classroom, killing a teacher and a student before turning the gun on himself.
Karen Elaine Smith, 53, was instantly killed when a man, armed with a .357 revolver, came into the North Park Elementary School classroom at around 10:30 a.m. and immediately opened fire on her. Two students were also struck: 8-year-old Jonathan Martinez died on his way to the hospital and a 9-year-old student was listed in stable condition Tuesday morning.
A candlelight vigil will be held at North Park Elementary School at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The shooter, identified as Smith's estranged husband, reloaded his handgun at least one time and used the last round to take his own life, police said.
There were 15 students in the special needs classroom ranging from first to fourth grade, along with two adult aides, police said.
The shooter fired 10 total rounds, and inadvertently hit two children located behind his wife, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said at a news conference Tuesday. They were airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center. Jonathan did not make it to the operating room before dying, hospital officials said.
The suspected shooter was later identified as 53-year-old Cedric Anderson of Riverside. In a relationship that lasted about four years, the two married in January and were together until Smith left Anderson in the middle of March.
Family members told NBC4 Los Angeles they would not discuss the details around their relationship, but Smith's mother Irma Sykes told the Los Angeles Times that Anderson had a "different personality" after Smith left him.
Smith's family told police she had mentioned his behavior was odd, she was concerned about his behavior and that he had made threats toward her, but not "a specific threat to shoot her," Burguan noted. Her family also told police that Smith may have not taken those threats seriously, because "she thought that he was reaching out for attention," he said.
Burguan said employees at the school were not aware of any marital issues, saying "she effectively kept her private life private."
Anderson, a former self-proclaimed pastor and maintenance worker, was unemployed, Burguan said. He had four prior arrests between 1982 and 2013, which included a domestic violence charge, a theft charge, and a weapons charge that did not involve a firearm. "In none of those cases was a conviction," he added.
San Bernardino Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Dale Marsden said the North Park campus will remain closed until Monday, April 17. "Parents and guardians in need of childcare can drop their students off in care of trained professionals on Thursday and Friday from 8:50 in the morning till 3:30 at Del Vallejo Middle School," he said.
"Our hearts are broken," Marsden said. "This is truly tragic."
Police first received a report of shots fired at the school at 10:27 a.m., followed by a report of an active shooter at the campus. It was not immediately clear whether the campus has metal detectors or other equipment designed to prevent weapons from being carried into the school.
"There was no indication the gun was visible upon his arrival at the school," police Capt. Ron Maass said at a news conference.
School employees knew Anderson, who followed protocol and got into the school through the front office by telling staffers he had to drop something off for Smith, police said. Marsden noted that surveillance footage from the school indicates Anderson tried to enter through at least one other locked door before he was forced to enter through the office.
"On the surface of things as we've investigated them so far, it really appears that things worked as they were supposed to, barring the fact that this was just an incredible tragedy," Burguan said.
The school of about 600 kindergarten through sixth grade students was placed on lockdown as law enforcement and first responders swarmed the campus. Aerial video showed lines of students walking across campus recreation fields and basketball courts as authorities evacuated the school.
The San Bernardino City Unified School District's website has a list of resources to help parents and children manage their distress in the aftermath of a shooting.
"This is a tragedy, especially for young students, but school officials and law enforcement acted quickly to deal with the event. As we grieve for those who died or were injured, this is also a time to remind all California public schools to make sure they annually update their mandatory school safety plans," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson in a statement released after the shooting.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos also issued a statement:
"My heart and prayers go out to the victims of this horrible act and to all students and members of the North Park Elementary School community. I want to thank the first responders, teachers and school administrators who were there to protect the students in harm’s way. As a mother and grandmother, today’s senseless violence is a tragedy no parent should ever have to face. I ask everyone to join me in keeping all the victims and those impacted in your prayers."
The school is about 10 miles from the Inland Regional Center, where 14 people were killed and 22 wounded in a December 2015 terror attack carried out by a husband and wife.