SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA.com) — A gunman killed a student and a teacher, who was his estranged wife, before turning the gun on himself Monday at an elementary school in San Bernardino, police said. A second student was also shot but survived.
The apparent murder-suicide was reported at 10:27 a.m. at North Park Elementary School at 5378 H St., according to police.
The suspect was identified as Cedric Anderson, 53, of Riverside. His wife was Karen Elaine Smith, also 53.
The shooting happened in one classroom filled with third and fourth-graders with special needs. At the time of the shooting, there was one teacher, two teacher’s aides and 15 students in the classroom, according to Chief Jarrod Burguan of the San Bernardino Police Department.
“Cedric entered the classroom without saying anything, armed with a large-caliber revolver, opened fire on his wife. She was killed in that exchange,” Burguan said. “There are two students in the classroom that were behind the teacher that were struck by gunfire.”
One of the wounded students, 8-year-old Jonathan Martinez, was pronounced dead at Loma Linda University Medical Center.
The police chief said the second injured student, a 9-year-old boy, was stable. His name was not released.
Frank Flores’ son, Christian, is a student a North Park Elementary. His classroom is just a stone’s throw from the room where the shooting unfolded.
“We just had to hide under our desks. And then when the SWATs came to our classroom, they said: ‘Put your hands up.’ And we all had to do it quietly and calmly. And we walked out of the classroom,” Christian recalled.
“It was awful. All your emotions. Worst day of my life,” Flores said. “Beyond description of how you’re just tore up in inside. I couldn’t get in. I couldn’t get past the police line.”
The school was placed on lockdown, and roughly 600 students were taken to Cajon High School for safety.
Immediately after the shooting, parents anxiously waited outside the school, clinging to their phones in anticipation of receiving a call from their children.
CBS2’s Greg Mills talked to one mom, who was waiting for her two kids to be bused to Cajon Elementary School.
“What’s this like for you”? Mills asked.
“It’s bad, it’s really bad”, she replied.
Others were shaken by the latest violence to hit the city of San Bernardino.
“This is just tragedy,” said William Green, whose son attends the school. “This is not a good time right now. It’s just not. I grew up in this area. This is tough right now. I don’t even have the words to speak it right now.”
“It’s traumatizing. My eyes are just shaking,” another parent said. “I’m at a loss for words.”
Children were seen giving high-fives on their way to be reunited with parents at Cajon High School.
Police said they did not believe children were targeted.
A robocall was sent out to alert parents about the tragedy.
San Bernardino Mayor R. Carey Davis said he received calls from the White House and the governor’s office expressing their condolences.
“On behalf of the city of San Bernardino, the mayor’s office and the city council, we want to express our condolences. Our prayers will be going out on behalf of the parents, the victims of this tragedy,” Davis said.
Parents can visit sbcusd.com for updated information about the school and resources available for them and their children dealing with the tragedy.
Parents were also urged to work with their kids to keep things as normal as possible. “Be willing to listen to their story, and be willing to listen to their story multiple times. Reassure them that the danger that they faced had passed. Also continue to model for them healthy ways to cope with what they’re feeling,” advised Dale Marsden, superintendent of the San Bernardino Unified School District.
North Park Elementary will remain closed Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the school district.
A vigil was held at Our Lady of the Assumption Church Monday night to remember the victims.
“We’re really miss her. She was a fantastic person. Sorry such a horrific thing happened to a beautiful person,” said Thomas Alexander, Smith’s cousin.
“Karen was an awesome, awesome lady. She was a beautiful mom, a beautiful teacher,” Smith’s cousin Jessica Alexander said.
Just last month, Anderson professed his love for Smith on social media, calling her an “angel.” In February, he posted a video in which he said his wife was “making me really happy.”
Anderson had a criminal history, including domestic violence and weapons charges, according to police.