SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — A classroom aide who was just feet away during the fatal shootings of a teacher and a student at a San Bernardino elementary school said she believes the gunman was “out for blood.”
Jennifer Downing said she thinks the shooter, Cedric Anderson, would have killed others if he hadn’t run out of bullets and stopped to reload Monday.
Anderson fatally shot himself after killing his estranged wife, teacher Karen Elaine Smith, and an 8-year-old boy, Jonathan Martinez, in a special-education classroom at North Park Elementary. Another student, 9-year-old Nolan Brandy, was shot and is recovering and in good spirits, his family said Wednesday.
“I don’t feel like he was just out for (Karen) Smith,” Downing, an instructional assistant told the Riverside Press-Enterprise (http://bit.ly/2pcQJX2 ). “I feel like he was out for blood.”
Downing said she had only worked with Smith for a short time. She told the newspaper that the teacher almost never talked about her personal life but once mentioned that she was stressed because of a divorce.
“She’s the most private person I’ve ever worked with,” she said of Smith.
Downing had never seen Anderson, 53, before he showed up at the classroom and opened fire without saying a word.
Earlier this year, just a month into their marriage, Anderson accused his wife of infidelity — though police have said there is no evidence of that. When he failed to win her back, he shot and killed her, police Chief Jarrod Burguan said.
Smith told family members that Anderson had threatened her after she moved out, but she didn’t take him seriously and thought he was just seeking attention, Burguan said.
At the time of the shooting, Smith, Downing and another aide were working with tables of four to five students. Downing said she had no idea Anderson was in the room until she heard the first shot.
Anderson kept firing in the seconds it took for Downing to process what was happening. She saw Smith, 53, slumped over at the desk where she had been sitting with her group.
Downing said she saw the 9-year-old get shot.
“So in my mind, I’m thinking ‘He’s shooting anybody and everybody,'” she said.
At some point Anderson “stopped, and messed with his gun” and that’s when she fled with two students. Later, Downing would find out from the other aide that Anderson tried to fire on other targets after Smith.
“She said he raised the gun to her — and it clicked. He was out” of bullets, Downing said.
According to the San Bernardino Police Department, Anderson fired 10 shots, stopping to reload his six-shot revolver midway through.
Information from: The Press-Enterprise, http://www.pe.com
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