The mother of a gunman who shot 14 people, killing four, during a rampage in Northern California said he called her a day earlier and told her that he was finished feuding with the small rural community where he lived.
“Mom it’s all over now,” Kevin Janson Neal‘s mother said he told her in their final conversation. “I have done everything I could do and I am fighting against everyone who lives in this area.”
Neal’s mother talked to The Associated Press by phone from Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives and where Neal grew up before moving to California, where he was working as a pot farmer and had recently married his longtime girlfriend before he died in a shootout with police on Tuesday.
The mother asked that only her first name, Annie, be used because she feared for her safety. She was unaware of her son’s role in the rampage until contacted by AP.
In her last few talks with her son, Neal’s mother said he sounded desperate and despairing over his relationship with his neighbors, who he said were cooking meth and creating fumes that were harming his nine dogs.
“All of a sudden, now I’m on a cliff and there’s nowhere to go,” she recalled her son telling her. “No matter where I go for help here I get nobody who will help me. All they are doing is trying to execute me here.”
The first two people Neal shot and killed were neighbors before he stole their truck and sought seemingly random victims elsewhere, including an elementary school, where he was locked out.
Sarah Gonzales had just dropped off her daughter when the gunman blocked her car, CBS News correspondent Jamie Yuccas reports.
“He pretty much stopped me and shot at me three times through his windshield,” Gonzales said.
Elijah Nouvelage/AFP/Getty Images
When he stopped firing, she said he continued toward the school. School officials heard gunshots and made a critical decision to lock it down.
“The quick action of those school officials, there is no doubt in my mind, saved countless lives,” Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said.
The gunman tried to enter the school but couldn’t get in. He fired about 30 rounds in six minutes before he took off.
A short time later, a patrol car rammed the suspect’s vehicle. Officers then opened fire and killed him.
Neal had been charged with stabbing one of the slain neighbors in January, and Annie said she posted the $160,000 bail for him and had spent over $10,000 on lawyer’s fees.
Police have declined to identify the shooter until his relatives are notified of his death, but confirmed the same man was charged with the January assault. The district attorney, Gregg Cohen, told the Sacramento Bee the man in that case is Kevin Neal.
Neal’s mother said her son told her the neighbor was slightly cut after Neal grabbed a steak knife out of the hand of the neighbor who was threatening him with it.
Police had also visited Neal’s house a day before the shootings on a domestic violence call, authorities said, but gave no details.
The head of the area’s homeowners association said neighbors had been complaining about Neal firing guns excessively on the property, which sits at the end of a dirt road.
Neal’s sister, Sheridan Orr, said she had not talked to her brother in months, but he had struggled with mental illness and at times had a violent temper. She said she believed he was addicted to drugs.
“We’re stunned and we’re appalled that this is a person who has no business with firearms whatsoever,” Orr said. “Our deep, deep sympathy for the victims and it sounds trite but our hearts are breaking for them.”
Orr added, “If we can do any good to make people realize there must be some gates on people like this from getting guns,” she paused. “This is the same story we’re hearing more and more.”
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