8-year-old dies in murder-suicide crossfire

Police say a 53-year-old man walked into a special-needs classroom just before 10:30 AM yesterday at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino, California, shot his estranged wife, shot two random students who were behind her, and then turned the gun on himself, ABC News reports.

One of the two children who were simply caught in the line of fire, 8-year-old Jonathan Martinez, was airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center but died before he could make it to surgery. The other student is 9 years old and was treated at the hospital for a gunshot wound; he’s in stable condition.

Police identified the gunman as Cedric Anderson of Riverside and his wife of just a few months as Karen Elaine Smith, also 53, who was the teacher in a classroom of about 15 first- through fourth-grade students. The rocky marriage ended in this murder-suicide.

One student told Agence France Presse he was in the middle of a math test at the school that serves about 500 elementary students when he heard gunfire. “I saw blood splashing on the wall. I ran as fast as I can. I lost a shoe,” AFP quoted him as saying.

Panicked parents and relatives who rushed to the school were reportedly kept waiting for several hours before being allowed any contact with their children. “I started feeling really scared from the SWAT team, and people from the police station came through the door to walk us out. We had to walk with our hands up,” an 11-year-old student told AFP. Students were transported by bus to safety at Cal State’s San Bernardino campus.

Mass death from gun violence is, unfortunately, not completely new to the San Bernardino community, located about an hour’s drive east of Los Angeles. In December 2015, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, shot 14 people and wounded 22 others before police killed them in the ensuing chase. Until the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, that attack was the deadliest attack on US soil since September 11, 2001.

“School campuses are sacred spaces where children should be free to learn, play, and grow without threat of violence,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. “Today’s shooting … is a reminder that deadly weapons can shatter that sense of security, mercilessly and without warning—leaving parents and educators struggling to address the questions, fears, and anxieties that gun violence creates for our young people.”

The incident was the 12th shooting at a US school since the start of the year, according to gun violence research group Everytown Research. Its research shows 220 school shootings in the US since 2013; 59 people were killed by guns in schools between 2013–2015 alone.

About the Author

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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