2 students injured as man opens fire at SoCal school, construction workers tackle suspect

Friday, October 8, 2010

2 injured when man opens fire at SoCal school

CARLSBAD, Calif. — A gunman opened fire on a crowded school playground Friday, striking two children before construction workers tackled him, authorities said.

The suspect parked his car around noon, jumped a fence and opened fire as he walked across campus in the north San Diego suburb, said Carlsbad police Lt. Kelly Cain. The students, ages 6 and 7, were both shot in their right arms. Police initially believed the children were grazed by bullets, but later determined the bullets passed through their arms. The injuries are not life-threatening and the children are expected to make a full recovery, Cain said.

The suspect, Brendan L. O’Rourke, 41, was arrested on suspicion of six counts of attempted murder and numerous weapons violations, Cain said. He is believed to have acted alone.

“He is possibly a transient who lives in the area,” Cain said. “He is not cooperating with the investigation. He probably has some mental health issues.”

Scott Chandler was repairing a Jet Ski in his driveway when he heard two loud bangs and saw children running and screaming. He ran downhill in his flip-flops and saw several men struggling on the side of the road.

As he approached the crowd, he saw bullets fall out of the suspect’s pocket.

“I just started yelling him, ‘Why are you shooting kids?’” Chandler said. “His face was in the dirt, his teeth were in the dirt, and he just grunted.”

Construction worker Carlos Partida told KGTV-TV that he ran to his truck after he saw the suspect leave the playground.

“I hit him with my truck,” he said.

Terry Lynn told KNSD-TV he looked out his window to see a man park his vehicle, jump a fence and fire a .357 Magnum revolver toward a crowd of children.

Lynn said he screamed, “No! No!” and rushed to the scene. By the time he arrived, construction workers had tackled the suspect. He helped restrain the man until police arrived.

“It was very chaotic,” he told the television station.

Witnesses said the man appeared to be firing randomly and was holding something that looked like a gas tank. Cain said a propane tank was found near his car.

“I heard a gunshot and I ran to Room 23,” said Kenny Speck, 6, who heard classmates crying. “Some kids went over the fence.”

Speck’s parents said it could have been so much worse.

“Who knows what could have happened?” said Tamera Wleklinski, his mother. “I am so grateful to the construction workers. They deserve lunch and free donuts for the rest of the year.”

Norma Cevallas, who picked up her kindergarten son an hour earlier, was at home when she heard four shots.

“We ran into a room and stayed there,” she said. “We didn’t want to come out.”

The school was placed on lockdown while parents waited for their children in a nearby park.

“It was total panic not knowing what was going on and if our children were OK,” Robert Speck, 43, said after reuniting with his son.

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