A special-education teacher and her eight-year-old student have been fatally shot by the teacher’s estranged husband in a classroom at an elementary school in San Bernardino, California.
Cedric Anderson, 53, opened fire with a high-calibre revolver, killing Karen Elaine Smith and a student and badly wounding another before killing himself, police said.
Authorities said Anderson had a criminal history, including weapons charges and domestic violence, that predated his brief marriage to Smith.
Police said the two students, both boys, were believed to have been inadvertently caught in the gunfire as bystanders to the shooting, which took place about 13 kilometres from where a radicalised Muslim couple killed 14 people in a December, 2015 rampage.
Police chief Jarrod Burguan said the shooting at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino, about 105 kilometres east of Los Angeles, was an apparent murder-suicide. It was the latest in dozens of cases of gun violence at US school campuses.
Police said there were 15 students in the classroom at the time of the shooting. (AP/Los Angeles Daily News: Rick Sforza)
Burguan said the couple, both 53 years old, had been married briefly and had been separated for over a month.
The two students struck by gunfire had been standing behind Smith, the chief said.
Jonathan Martinez died from his wounds. A nine-year-old classmate, who was not publicly identified, was admitted to a hospital where he was said to be in stable condition.
Fifteen students and two adult teacher assistants were in the classroom along with the couple at the time of the shooting, police said.
Police said Anderson was welcomed into the school as a legitimate visitor, stopping by to “drop something off with his wife”, and kept his weapon concealed until opening fire in the classroom.
‘She is too young to understand’
The school was evacuated after the shooting and students were bussed to the campus of California State University to be briefed and interviewed by authorities. From there, they were taken to a nearby high school and be reunited with their families.
Children held hands and walked single-file across the campus to waiting buses before being greeted by their parents.
An eight-year-old student, Jonathan Martinez, was killed in the shooting. (AP/Los Angeles Daily News: Rick Sforza)
“I’m glad my daughter is fine,” Angelique Youmans, 31, said as she hugged her 10-year-old daughter.
“She is too young to understand what happened.”
Samantha Starcher, 25, said she waited four hours to be reunited with her six-year-old daughter.
“When I heard about the shooting, I started praying, asking God to keep my daughter safe,” she said.
“She heard two gunshots but she didn’t know what it was. I’m not going to tell her [about the shooting] because I don’t want to traumatise her.”
School officials said North Park Elementary would remain closed for at least two days.
The city of San Bernardino last made national headlines on December 2, 2015, when a husband and wife, who authorities said were inspired by Islamic extremism, opened fire on a holiday office party of county health workers, killing 14 people and wounding more than 20.
The couple, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, were killed by police during a shootout.
Mayor Carey Davis said he had spoken about the shooting to White House officials about Tuesday’s (AEDT) school shooting. They said President Donald Trump expressed “concern for students and teachers” at North Park.