Gunman opens fire at North County elementary school

CARLSBAD (CNS) – A seemingly deranged gunman carrying a can of gasoline, a propane tank and numerous rounds of ammunition opened fire into a crowd of students at a Carlsbad primary school today, grazing two second-graders before being chased down and subdued by witnesses.     

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. 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 taken to a hospital with bullet graze wounds in their right arms.

His pistol apparently ran out of ammunition before several construction workers, including Carlos Partida, who happened to be in the area gave chase on foot and in a pickup truck. One of them used the vehicle to knock down the attacker, allowing the good Samaritans to catch him and hold him for police, who arrived momentarily.     

Two pupils were grazed by bullets in their arms, suffering minor injuries, Lt. Cain told reporters. Medics airlifted them to Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego.      The campus, meanwhile, was placed on lockdown as police worked to ensure that no other threats remained, a process that took several hours.      

Sheriff's bomb-squad personnel investigated the two fuel canisters the shooter had been carrying and “rendered them safe,” Carlsbad police Chief Gary Morrison said. Though Morrison referred to the containers as “suspicious devices,” it was unclear if the shooter had planned to ignite or detonate the fuel.  The gunman had left the propane tank outside his car, which was parked outside the school.  He apparently dropped the small gas can on or near the campus grounds.     

Parents were told meet at Laguna Rivera Park, a short distance from the Kelly Drive school, to pick up their children once an all-clear was issued. All pupils had been reunited with family members by shortly before 4 p.m., according to Kristina Ray, a spokeswoman for the city of Carlsbad.     

Officers took the suspect to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla for an evaluation.  City trauma counselors and police and fire department chaplains went to the scene to help those traumatized by the attack.     

Carlsbad Mayor Claude “Bud” Lewis offered “deep sympathy to all the children and families affected by today's shooting.”  He said the Carlsbad Unified School District “handled the situation with the utmost sensitivity to its students and parents.”

“I would also like to commend our local citizens for their heroic efforts to stop the shooter,” Lewis said. “I am proud of the quick and thorough response of Carlsbad safety personnel and all of the other agencies (that) assisted throughout the incident.”

Categories: KUSI