Children in Carlsbad ran for their lives Friday after a gunman -- whom a witness described as deranged -- scaled a fence and opened fire. The heroic actions of three construction workers finally put an end to the terrifying ordeal.
Carlsbad Police named the suspected shooter as Brendan L. O'Rourke, 41, in a press release. It said when the police arrived, O'Rourke was detained by the three civilian witnesses who intervened by chasing the suspect and removed the weapon from him.
O'Rourke is scheduled to be booked into the Vista Detention Facility for six counts of attempted murder and numerous violations involving weapons, said police.
Police confirmed at about 2 p.m. on Friday that two children who had been playing outside at recess at Kelly Elementary School in Carlsbad were "shot in the extremities" and had "non-life-threatening wounds."
The victims, girls aged 6 and 7, were admitted to Rady's Children Hospital with wounds on their right arms. The families are not speaking to the media.
Police spokesman Lt. Kelly Cain described the shooter, who witnesses said leapt a fence to gain access to the campus at about 12:10 p.m., as a "gray-haired" man but offered no other details at the time.
Cain said the suspect gave officers three names, including a woman's name, which Cain said raises obvious questions about the man's mental state. He also said the school is still on lockdown, in part because a propane tank was found by the suspect's car, which he described as a "tan, four-door" sedan.
Scott Chandler, who lives across the street from the school at 4885 Kelly Drive, said he helped to capture the shooting suspect. He said that he and a couple of construction workers tackled the man.
"I believe he ran out of bullets, then ran to a fence, chased by a couple guys," Chandler said, whose two children both graduated from the school.
Chandler said he thought the gunman was in his mid-40s and that the suspect had short gray hair and was wearing a black hoodie and pants.
Authorities originally said the only injuries connected to the noon-time shooting were to people with scrapes and bruises, but officials then said one person was taken away by air ambulance. Still later, authorities said both victims had been brought to Children's Hospital by helicopter.
"Looked like maybe two injuries, but I'm not sure if that wasn't from kids running away ... they looked stable," Chandler said.
Chandler also said that he helped officers to recover the weapon.
"I pointed out where the weapon was -- got it about 15 feet away," Chandler said, who described the gun as a "long barrel .38."
From what Chandler said, the incident could have been much worse: The gunman had a box of bullets in his pants that police recovered and had brought a 5-gallon gas can with him as well. Law enforcement located a propane tank after the shooting and brought in the sheriff's department bomb squad, who deployed a robot to examine the tank at about 1 p.m. The tank is leaning on a silver four-door American-made sedan -- possibly a Crown Victoria -- that was blocked off by a black pickup truck and a police patrol car.
Witness Terry Lin said that he saw the gunman shooting toward a field with children in it. He said he saw what was happening and screamed, "No! No!" at the gunman, then jumped in his van and raced down to the school to help, but when he had pulled up, Chandler and the construction workers already had the suspect in custody. Lin said that he, too, saw ammunition come out of the man's pockets during a search.
Asked if the gunman was shooting at the school, Chandler said that the suspect "shot all over." Chandler also said that after the suspect was tackled, he "wasn't speaking clearly."
"I think the guy was deranged," Lin said. "He was saying something about the president. He was not coherent. He was crazy."
After police took the suspect into custody, Chandler jumped back over the fence and went with the school's principal to search classrooms.
Another neighbor, whose home overlooks the campus, told NBCSanDiego that lots of shots were fired and that she saw people running from the school, in some cases jumping over a fence to get away from the campus. She also said she saw "people taking somebody down."
Chander said the suspect "took a beating" when he was detained by the good Samaritans. Police later brought the man to Scripps La Jolla for treatment, but he was released from the hospital later in the afternoon and taken to Carlsbad police headquarters, where he was questioned by investigators.
As of 12:30 p.m., the school was still in lockdown; a nearby resident told NBCSanDiego that many emergency vehicles were at the school. At that time, parents were being kept blocks away while the school was in lockdown. Families were urged to assemble at nearby Laguna Riviera Park -- also known as Kelly Park. At about 2:30 p.m., students began to be released from the school lockdown. Officials brought in a trauma intervention team for anyone who sought counseling after the shooting..
There are about 450 students at the school, the North County Times reported. School officials said that students would return to the campus on Monday.
Kelly Elementary School has been at the center of a controversial debate over soil testing. So far there is no indication that the shooting has any connection to the soil-testing controversy.
Some residents and scientists claimed the school has had too many cases of cancer among students and teachers. Others pointed out that some of the soil at the school was already tested and found to be safe, and said the issue was only creating unnecessary fear in the community, especially among children who attend Kelly.