A teacher and a student were shot dead and another child was critically wounded Monday in a murder-suicide inside an elementary school special needs classroom in San Bernardino, California. The suspected shooter was also killed.
The 8-year-old child was identified as Jonathan Martinez by San Bernardino police. He was taken to Loma Linda University Medical Center via helicopter where he later died.
The teacher was identified by law enforcement officials as Karen Elaine Smith, 53, Monday afternoon. The suspected shooter was identified as Smith's husband, Cedric Charles Anderson, a 53-year-old resident of the City of Riverside, multiple law enforcement agencies confirmed to NBC4.
Two children, including Martinez, were struck by gunfire behind Smith in the apparent murder-suicide shooting, according to police.
Police do not believe the children were targeted.
Police said Anderson came to the special needs classroom, comprised of first and fourth graders, armed with a .357 revolver and opened fire on Smith. He reloaded his handgun at least one time, and used the last round to take his own life, police said.
The children were inadvertently hit as they stood behind Smith, police Chief Jarrod Burguan said at a news conference. They were airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center. Jonathan did not make it to the operating room before dying, hospital officials said.
Monica Garcia, of the San Bernardino Unified School District, said the shooting appeared to stem from a domestic violence dispute involving Anderson and Smith, both of whom were found dead in the classroom. The marriage between the two was relatively short — less than two months long — prior to Monday's shooting, Burguan said.
The second student, a 9-year-old whose identity has not been made public, was in stable condition at the hospital.
"Our hearts are broken," said San Bernardino School District Superintendent Dr. Dale Marsden. "This is truly tragic."
Teacher's Estranged Husband Opens Fire in Elementary School Classroom
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.
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.
Parents gathered outside the elementary school, waiting to pick up their children and get updates on the shooting.
"Hold each other, that's all we can do," said a parent who spoke to NBC4. "I'm probably going to cry like a baby. I don't care, I just want to hug my child."
Another man said his daughter left her phone at home, leaving him unable to reach her for updates. He said he was relieved to learn his daughter was safe.
Police asked parents to pick up students at Cajon High School and urged them to bring valid IDs.
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.
San Bernardino Mayor R. Carey Davis tweeted there would be a 6 p.m. vigil at Our Lady of Assumption Church located at 796 W. 48th Street.
"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.