Wed | Sep 19, 2018

Children quieted others at California school as gunman fired

Published:Friday | November 17, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Randy Morehouse, the maintenance and operations supervisor for the Corning Union Elementary School District, points to one of the bullet holes at the Rancho Tehama Elementary School from gunman Kevin Janson Neal's shooting rampage at Rancho Tehama Reserve, California on Tuesday.

Teacher Jennifer Bauman threw herself against a classroom door that wouldn't lock right, terrified that the gunman shooting outside her small Northern California elementary school would barrel in and find the children huddled under desks.

Shooter Kevin Neal, 44, bypassed their door, taking out a window before he went on to attack a kindergarten class in another portable building.

Despite her terror, Bauman, who teaches first and second grade, couldn't stop praising the pupils who stayed calm. She said fourth- and fifth-graders quieted the younger ones, and let her know which ones had been slightly wounded by flying glass.

"I braced myself against the door. I didn't even think twice. I don't feel like a hero. I did what I was supposed to do," she said. "The kids are the heroes."

Authorities credited the quick action of school personnel, who jumped into lockdown mode as soon as they heard gunshots Tuesday morning, for saving dozens of students at Rancho Tehama Elementary School. The school has about 100 students and is about 130 miles (209 kilometers) north of Sacramento.

"I really, truly believe we would have had a horrific bloodbath at that school if that school hadn't taken the action that it did," Assistant Tehama County Sheriff Phil Johnston said.




School secretary Sara Lobdell rushed out to shoo children inside while John Hayburn, a custodian, swooped into the play yard, yelling at stragglers "get into the classrooms".

"Without them, it would have been much, much worse," Jay Lobdell, who is married to Sara, told a packed community vigil Wednesday night.

Later, he said their two children attend the school.

"She's the one who put the school on lockdown with her quick thinking," he said, choking up. He said she huddled on the floor during the gunfire, sending out emails.

- AP