SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Authorities said the shooter at a San Bernardino school told staff that he had come to drop something off for his wife — a teacher there — before shooting and killing her and a student in a special-needs classroom.
Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said Monday at a news conference that 53-year-old Karen Elaine Smith was targeted and that her estranged husband, 53-year-old Cedric Anderson, opened fire “very, very quickly upon entering the classroom.” There were 15 students in the classroom.
Burguan says Anderson shot and killed himself after shooting his wife. Two children standing behind Smith were struck by gunfire, killing 8-year-old Jonathan Martinez and wounding a 9-year-old boy.
Police said Anderson had posted on social media last month that his wife was “an angel.”
On what appeared to be his Facebook page, Anderson also posted photos in March with Smith. Police say the couple had been estranged for at least a month.
Anderson posted a video in February saying she’s “making me really happy.” In the 12-second clip, he also said, “She knows when to ignore me” as he laughed and flashed a smile.
He said, “that makes a happy marriage.”
A post on what appeared to be Karen Smith’s Facebook page invited friends to the couple’s wedding in January. Anderson posted several photos of the wedding and their honeymoon in Sedona.
San Bernardino City Unified School District superintendent Dale Marsden said Anderson was “known to staff” at the school.
Burguan said the shooter entered the classroom with a large caliber revolver and opened fire “without saying anything,” killing Smith, and wounding two students.
The two students who were struck by gunfire were standing behind Smith, the police chief said.
Jonathan Martinez, 8, died at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda after being airlifted from the school, the police chief said. The other student, a 9-year-old boy, was listed in stable condition.
Police do not believe the two children were targeted; they happened to be near the teacher.
Burguan said that at the time of the shooting there were 15 students from grades one through four in the special needs classroom, along with two adult aides.
“This is a tragic incident that has befallen our city,” San Bernadino Police Lt. Michael Madden told reporters earlier.
Madden said police had received reports of the shooting at the school shortly before 10:30 a.m., and officers responded within minutes.
San Bernardino Police Capt. Ron Maass, the incident commander, said Anderson had gone to the classroom to visit Smith. There is no indication the suspect’s handgun was visible when he entered the school, Maass said.
Anderson signed in at the front office before going to the classroom, according to Maass. He said he believed the suspect was known to the front office.
“Far too often in our country and throughout the world, we gather to report this news of tragic events that take place,” San Bernardino Mayor R. Carey Davis said.
The San Bernardino City Unified School District said the students were evacuated to nearby Cajon High School to be reunited with parents. CNN affiliate KABC showed footage of school buses that were being used to take students to Cajon High.
Frantic parents rushed to North Park Elementary. Brad Hendran told CNN affiliate KABC he was looking for his daughter, who is in the second grade.
“I fell to my knees and started saying our father and hail Mary’s. … I’m gonna hug her. … I’m gonna hug her. I hope she is OK,” Hendran said.
One father, who wasn’t identified by the CNN affiliate, stood behind police tape, looking for one of his sons. He said his two boys are in second grade and fifth grade.
“I see one of my boys, but not the smallest one,” he said tearfully. His eldest son had just gotten on a bus, he said.
He was at work when he heard about the shooting from the boys’ mom, who works for the school district.
District Superintendent Dale Marsden said North Park Elementary would be closed for at least the next two days.
“I would like our community and our nation to keep our families in prayer,” he said.