A gunman choosing targets at random opened fire in a rural California town, killing four people at several sites and wounding others at a primary school, before police shot him dead, authorities said.
The gunfire began at about 8am in the community of Rancho Tehama Reserve, about 130 miles north of Sacramento.
“It was very clear at the onset that we had an individual that was randomly picking targets,” Tehama County assistant sheriff Phil Johnston said.
Witnesses reported hearing gunshots and children screaming at a primary school about five miles down a road from where the shooting is believed to have started.
Several people were wounded at the school, said Jeanine Quist, an administrative assistant with the Corning Union Elementary School District.
Salvador Tello said the gunman fired at a truck in front of him as he was dropping off his three children.
Mr Tello said he was close to the school when bullets made “big holes” in the truck in front of him.
He said he forced his children to duck down and slammed his truck into reverse and headed to the children’s grandmother’s house.
“I put my kids down and put my truck in reverse and went out,” he said.
“I don’t believe it, because I wake up, take my kids, feed them cereal and put them in the truck, and say ‘let’s go to school like a normal day’.”
On the way, he said, he saw an apparent gunshot victim and police at another scene.
Details were still sketchy hours after the shootings, and authorities did not have a firm count of the wounded due to the number of places the gunman attacked, Mr Johnston said.
Authorities recovered a semi-automatic rifle and two handguns.
The rural area is described on its website as a “quiet private country community” where “the people are friendly and the pace is relaxed”.
Two hospitals said they were treating a seven gunshot victims, including at least three children.
At least one child was wounded at the school. Another child was shot while driving with a woman, who also was wounded, Mr Johnston said.
He declined to release the name of the gunman but said he was “aware” of a domestic violence incident that neighbours reported.
Brian Flint told the Record Searchlight newspaper in the city of Redding that his neighbour, who he knows only as Kevin, was the gunman, and that his roommate was among the victims. He said the gunman also stole his truck.
“The crazy thing is that the neighbour has been shooting a lot of bullets lately, hundreds of rounds, large magazines,” Mr Flint said.
“We made it aware that this guy is crazy and he’s been threatening us.”