The Heroes Who Took Down an Alleged Gunman - NBC 7 San Diego

The Heroes Who Took Down an Alleged Gunman

Brendan L. O'Rourke is accused of firing at Kelly Elementary School students and grazing two girls with bullets



    Dressed in black, carrying a 357 magnum, pockets full of ammunition and a gas can, a man walked onto a playground at Kelly Elementary School and emptied his gun into a crowd of children, according to witnesses.

    The bullets grazed the arms of two little girls, aged 6 and 7. Miraculously no one was killed, thanks, in part, to the heroic actions of several men.

    Steven Kane, Mario Contreras and Carlos Partida were working in a construction area Friday when they heard shots and kids screaming. They ran around the building and saw a gunman, who police later identified as Brendan L. O'Rourke, 41, firing rounds as children ran for their lives.

    “As the three approached the shooter, he turned and ran towards his vehicle, which he had parked near the playground,” Lt. Kelly Cain said. “As Kane and Contreras chased O’Rourke, he appeared to be attempting to reload his handgun.”

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    Kane and Contreras chased the suspect over the playground fence. Partida jumped into his own vehicle and drove to where the suspect had parked.

    "I hit him with my truck," Partida said.

    He knocked the suspect to the ground and the others held him down. 

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    A fourth good Samaritan, Scott Chandler, was repairing a Jet Ski in his driveway when he heard two loud bangs and saw children running and screaming. He ran downhill in his flip-flops and took cover behind some tall Eucalyptus trees while he called 911. He saw several men struggling on the side of the road.

    Chandler, a professional surfer, approached the crowd after realizing the workers were pinning down the man.

    “He took a pretty good beating. I think the construction guys were wearing steel toe boots,” Chandler said.

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    He saw bullets fall out of the suspect's pocket.

    "I just started yelling him, 'Why are you shooting kids?"' Chandler said. "His face was in the dirt, his teeth were in the dirt, and he just grunted."

    He said he helped the workers detain him and made sure the weapon was clear. But he’s deflecting all the credit to them.

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    "Construction guys if you’re out there, you guys are heroes. I think everybody owes you and I thank you as well," Chandler said.

    He said he shudders to think of what could have happened if the man had not been stopped.

    "He had some kind of mission he was on and he didn't complete it," Chandler said.

    O'Rourke was arrested on suspicion of six counts of attempted murder and numerous weapons violations.

    "He is possibly a transient who lives in the area," Cain said. "He is not cooperating with the investigation. He probably has some mental health issues."

    A propane tank was found near O'Rourke’s car and a gas canister was also found on the school playground. Cain said police do not know what he intended to do or why he opened fire.

    The injured students are expected to make full recoveries.

    A School board member says students were locked inside classrooms or bathrooms within minutes of the shooting. After the shooting, parents were reunited with their children who told their heart wrenching tales.

    “I heard the shot and then I am like ‘Phoebe, come on, this is not ok’, and so I started running” Student Shaylyn Foley said crying. “I am feeling very nervous because I want to know where my friend is and she didn't come out yet.”

    Young school children -- trying to make sense out of something senseless.     

    “There was just this huge lockdown because the principal had to find us. But we all had to go into the bathroom because we were hiding,” said Kindergartner Louie Peterson.

    And parents who never thought something like this would happen to their children.

    “It just goes to show that this can happen at any school,” said mother Steph Peterson.

    When students return to school on Monday, counselors will be available to talk to them. This weekend, the school's principal is planning on leaving a phone message for parents with any updates.