A gunman opened fire in his estranged wife’s elementary school classroom Monday in San Bernardino, killing her and an 8-year-old student before fatally shooting himself, police say. Another student, 9, was also wounded.
Cedric Charles Anderson, 53, of Riverside, California, has been identified as the shooter, police said. Anderson was targeting his wife not students, and the murder-suicide is believed to have stemmed from a domestic incident, police said.
The slain student has been identified as Jonathan Martinez, 8. The 9-year-old student who was also wounded has not been named. He is in stable condition and is expected to recover, police said.
There were 15 students and two adult aides in the classroom when the shooting occurred, police said.
Police were called to the school at 10:27 a.m. Monday for reports of shots fired and an active shooter. They responded within four minutes and found the gunman and teacher dead inside the classroom, with two students suffering from injuries, police said.
Information about the gunman, the victims and the incident is still unfolding, here is what we know so far:
1. The Gunman Signed in at the School’s Main Office & Went to His Wife’s Classroom, Where He Opened Fire Without a Word
The shooter, identified as Cedric Anderson, walked into the classroom and opened fire on his wife without saying anything, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said at a press conference.
It was a special education classroom, with students from first to fourth grade, and the teacher, identified as Karen Smith, was instructing students at the time of the shooting, police said.
“He came in in a very, very quick manner and quickly, upon entering the classroom, started shooting,” Burguan said.
The chief said Anderson reloaded once after firing six bullets from what Burguan called a “large-calibered” handgun. He fired four more shots, including a self-inflicted gunshot.
According to police, the students were not the targets of the shooting. They suffered gunshot wounds because of their “proximity to the teacher.”
Burguan said Smith was in the middle of the classroom next to a table desk, with two students on the other side of the table when Anderson opened fire from about 10 to 15 feet away.
Marissa Perez, a 9-year-old girl who was in the class at the time of the shooting, told the Los Angeles Times what she saw.
“The [man] just walked in with the gun. He just shot everywhere,” Marissa told the newspaper. “I went under the table and then I saw a teacher run out. So I just ran out. My friend and my teacher, they got shot.”
Elizabeth Barajas, Marissa’s mother, told the Times her daughter came up to her after the shooting and said, “Mommy, I still have blood on my sweater.”
Superintendent Dale Marsden said the gunman followed entry procedures, including checking in at the office. The shooter provided identification and signed in, Marsden said, while showing a purpose to be on campus.
Police said the shooter told school staff he was going to the classroom to visit the teacher who was killed. He was recognized by the staff member in the office and was not accompanied to the classroom.
“He simply said he was there to drop something off there with his wife,” Burguan said.
Marsden said the school staff members knew Smith and Anderson had recently married, but were not aware of any issues between them.
“Nobody at school aware of marital discord,” Burguan said. “She kept her private life private.”
The two wounded students were hospitalized in critical condition, authorities said at a press conference. One of the students, Jonathan Martinez, was airlifted to a local hospital, where he later died.
The medical helicopter landed on a nearby soccer field. The other student was taken by ambulance. The second student has since been upgraded to stable condition.
Burguan said a Smith & Wesson .357 revolver was recovered at the scene next to Anderson. He said they have not yet determined if the gun was legally owned and registered to Anderson. The last record available on the gun was that it was originally purchased in Michigan in 1975, by someone other than Anderson.
There is no indication the gun was visible when the shooter arrived at the school, police said. There are no metal detectors at the school, police said.
School officials said more details about the shooter’s actions before he opened fire, including exactly how he got into the school, will be revealed as the investigation moves forward.
Judi Penman, a former school board member, told The San Bernardino Sun the police department is “very well prepared” for situations like the shooting.
“It is one of the most organized and well-prepared police departments around. It interacts and trains with the city police department, and they are well prepared for this type of situation,” she told the newspaper. “What I am surprised at is how this person got onto the school campus. The schools are very safe and it is extremely difficult for a stranger to get on campus.”
Burguan said, “We know that the suspect came into the office, he was recognized by the school employee. It is not uncommon for spouses and people like that to visit their employees there. There does not appear to be on the surface a break down in security.”
Anderson also tried to get into another door before going through the office, but was not able to because it was locked.
“There will be a full and complete review, but on the surface it really appears that things worked the way they were supposed to, barring the fact this was just an incredible tragedy,” Burguan said.
2. Anderson Posted a Video on Facebook in February Talking About How He Loves His Wife & Called Her an ‘Angel’ in a March Post
Cedric Anderson posted a video on Facebook in February talking about his love for his wife, Karen Smith-Anderson.
“What I love about my wife, boy, she is making me really happy,” Anderson said in the video. “She knows when to ignore me. That makes a happy marriage.”
Anderson and Smith had only been married for a few months and were separated, Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said at a press conference. Police have released few details about the gunman’s motive.
The couple was married on January 28, 2017, at Bethesda Temple Church in Los Angeles, according to a post on Smith’s Facebook page.
They had been friends for about four years before they got married, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Anderson shared several photos of the wedding and their honeymoon to Sedona, Arizona, on his Facebook page, including a video of them hiking captioned, “I married a crazy hiker, I got to get in shape.”
Smith, who had worked as a teacher for more than 10 years, is survived by her four children, who are safe, Burguan said. Anderson also had three adult children, according to his Facebook page.
The relationship took a turn in mid-March, after they had been living together.
In a post on March 11, Anderson wrote on Facebook, “My wife Karen Smith-Anderson is an Angel!!!” And on March 10, he posted, “Date Night!!!”
But he had not mentioned her or posted on his Facebook page since March 15. He was previously an avid poster, but had been silent since a post about the conviction of former Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca on March 15.
Smith’s mother, Irma Sykes, told the Los Angeles Times her daughter “decided to pull away” from Anderson after the couple had lived together about a month.
“She thought she had a wonderful husband, but she found out he was not wonderful at all. He had other motives,” Sykes said. “She left him and that’s where the trouble began. She broke up with him and he came out with a different personality. She decided she needed to leave him. She was going to divorce him.”
Burguan said Smith had been living with her adult children after moving out of the house she was sharing with Anderson in mid-March.
“(Smith told) those closest to her that his behavior was odd and she was concerned about his behavior and that he did make some threats toward her,” Burguan said. “He did not make a specific threat to shoot her. She didn’t necessarily take those threats seriously, she thought he was reaching out for attention.”
3. Anderson, Who Had a History of Domestic Violence & Gun Arrests, Posted in 2016 About How ‘the Innocent’ Get Killed When People Are ‘Fed Up’
In July 2016, Anderson wrote a post about how “fed up people” kill.
“The truth of the matter is when people get fed up, people get killed! It’s the folks who think they have nothing to lose with there evil ways that puts innocent people at risk to die!” he wrote. “Most fed up people kill the innocent. ISIS, Bad Cops, Mass Killers, Domestic Violence Killers.”
Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said Cedric Anderson had a criminal history, including arrests for domestic violence, theft, and weapons charges, but was never convicted. Burguan said he was not able to provide specifics about those cases. He said the criminal history preceded his relationship with Karen Smith.
Anderson was arrested in Los Angeles County in 2013 and charged with brandishing a weapon, assault and battery and disturbing the peace, court records show. The case was dismissed in 2014. Further details about the incident that led to the charges and why the case was not prosecuted were not immediately available.
He was also arrested in 1993 in Kern County, California, on charges of battery with serious bodily injury and battery on a person, but that case was also dismissed.
Anderson was also arrested in 1982, but that case also didn’t result in a conviction, Burguan said.
Investigators are working to find out more about Anderson’s background and what led to the shooting.
Burguan said Anderson did not speak to officers before the fatal self-inflicted gunshot wound, and police said they had not found a suicide note. They did find a hand written note written by Anderson in which he talked about feeling disrespected and things that needed closure, including his relationship, but Burguan said it was not a suicide note.
Police responded to the shooter’s home in Riverside to continue the investigation, and are awaiting warrants to search it.
A police spokesman said they do not believe the school had any indication of a history of domestic violence, a restraining order or any other issues between the teacher and the victim that would have prevented him from being allowed on the campus.
He shared a pro-gun post on his Facebook page last year:
Anderson previously lived in Georgia and Nevada, along with multiple cities in California, according to his Facebook page.
He does not appear to have a criminal history in Georgia, but he was previously married while living there, according to court records. He and his former wife divorced in 2011 in Gwinnett County.
The divorce was uncontested, but involved a mutual restraining order.
Anderson worked as a maintenance technician for real estate companies, according to his Facebook page, but police said he was unemployed at the time of the shooting.
4. Anderson, a Navy Veteran, Was a Pastor & Posted Often About His Religious Beliefs on Facebook
Anderson was a guest pastor and frequently posted on his Facebook page about his religious beliefs.
On March 4 he wrote a post titled, “bereavement”:
My dearest sister and brothers – I’m so sorry for your loss.
The process is brevity is so difficult because although we will never lose the memory or voice of a close relation in our head, we miss their presence.
I always compare losing someone you love as losing a limb.
Even military vets have had to deal with the harsh reality of trying to stand on a leg that was lost in war .
The mind still remembers its connection and use but in reality it is gone. And they have loss that function.
It’s the reality of knowing that person’s presence is gone.
The process of healing then is coming to the place and decision that we must LEARN to live life with out that vital and important part of us, and keep living on!
That loved one would want that!
Thank God for Jesus because He is able to fill that loss.
God Bless You.
Praying for you!
In February, he wrote a post thanking God for his wife.
“My worship was pure tonight. God is awesome! My wife Karen is such a pure spirit.
She has no guile or pretense. She has no ill will toward anyone. (It amazes me!),” Anderson wrote. “Jesus said blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Karen’s essence is disarming. I’ve never meet anyone like her.
“Her strength is not in worldly wisdom, head games and manipulation. Her strength is in the essence of her purity,” he said. “Her anchor is that she sees God. It is a joy to have a conversation with her. I praise God for such a wonderful Lady!”
Anderson has been a guest pastor on a local radio show and wrote on Facebook about leading bible study groups.
Erica Gates, the host of the Re’al It Tea Radio Show, wrote on Facebook, “ONE OF MY RESIDENT GUEST PASTORS ON MY Re’alit TeaRadio SHOW RIP TO ALL INVOLVE. NOT POSTING ANY FURTHER DETAILS!!!!!!!!”
Along with posts about religion, Anderson often wrote about social and political issues, including police shootings. After five police officers were ambushed and killed in Dallas in July 2016, he wrote about the “birth of the black American terrorist.”
The Birth of the Black American Terrorist! After last night, Young Black Men have learned how to die fighting back. Expect more. We have just seen the birth of the Black Timothy McVeigh. I see this message among the younger activist today.”If I have to die, I’d rather be the sacrifice than the victim.” ………That’s how White Terrorist and Foreign Terrorist think.. Until now the only difference in White Domestic Terrorist and Gang members has been the element of Self Sacrifice. That all changed last night.
A black man became a domestic terrorist aginist his Arch Enemy in America………The Cops!
The ultimate image of “Fuck The Police,” was birthed in the heart and minds of every young Black child last night.
We saw a young Black Male trying to conduct his business executed before our eyes.
We saw then a mother and her daughter fear for their lives while being forced to watch a good black law abiding family man executed by a white policeman in their car.
We saw a armed and well trained black man fight back by shooting a dozen cops and killing five of them in Dallas as a response to the injustice he saw. I cried, He killed!
We saw birth in the mind of Black kids who were traumatized by the events of this week the idea that, “There are also violent options and responses to police violence aginist Blacks.”
Young black people felt the Power as Christopher Dorner manifesto suggested, (a disgraced ex-LAPD officer swore revenge on those he blamed for his firing.) He vowed to kill them all … and their families. We didn’t listen to him. Will we listen now?
Something has to change in American policing so Black Men and their families are respected as Equal to Whites.
It’s time to change and not sweep this under the rug again. It’s getting harder and harder to hide it. Our Foreign Enemies are loving it. God help Us!
He also posted several times about “women who kill,” including sharing two posts about cases of domestic violence involving women, writing, “Mom kills In domestic violence!” and “Mother in Law kills daughter in domestic violence!” on the posts.
He also shared posts from the “Fathers Rights’ Movement.”
Anderson was a Navy veteran, according to a news clip he posted to his Facebook page last year. He was featured in a Las Vegas news report about issues with military base housing.
He served for eight years, according to the news report. His ex-wife was also in the military.
Details about his military service were not immediately available.
5. The Shooting Was ‘Like a Punch to the Gut’ of a Community Rocked by a Terror Attack 17 Months Ago
The shooting occurred in a community still raw from a 2015 terror attack that left 14 people dead and 22 wounded. Two shooters, a husband and wife, opened fire during a San Bernardino County Department of Public Health training event and Christmas party at a rented banquet room in San Bernardino. Syed Rizwan Farook was an employee of the health department. He and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, were later killed in a shootout with police. The attackers were inspired by radical Islamic terror groups.
San Bernardino Police Lieutenant Mike Madden was one of the first officers on the scene for the shooting and is now the spokesman for the department. During a press conference after the North Park shooting, Madden brought up the December 2015 attack.
“There was a massive response to the incident, just as we saw on December 2,” Madden said. “But that does not negate the fact that tragedy has again befallen our city.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, San Bernardino has also seen an increase in violence recently. There were 62 homicides in 2016, up 41 percent from the year before, which included the 14 deaths in the terror attack. It was the deadliest year the city has seen since 1995.
“Far too often in our country and throughout the world, we gather to report this news of tragic events that take place,” Mayor Carey Davis said. He added that the community will again come together to get through the tragedy, like it did 17 months ago.
U.S. Rep. Pete Aguilar, a Democrat from Redlands said in a statement he was “devastated” by the shooting and said it is “like a punch to the gut of our community.”
“We will learn more in the coming hours and days about how today’s events came to pass,” Aguilar said in a statement. “But there are some things that we know now: This is a tragedy for our community and there are children, teachers, staff and families who will be dealing with what happened today for a long time. As we have done before, we need to come together to support those affected and rededicate ourselves to ending gun violence in our community.”
The school was evacuated after the gunfire erupted and students were led to a nearby high school before being taken to the campus of the University of California-San Bernardino. At the college campus, some students and staff who may have been witnesses to the incident were being interviewed by detectives, police said.
A 9-year-old student, Jaidyn Stanley, told the Los Angeles Times he was in a different classroom and heard the shooting.
“I was in my class and my teacher was teaching us a lesson, and then I heard three gun shots. My teacher told us to get on the ground. Then we started hearing sirens,” Jaiyden, a third grader, told the newspaper. “There was a lot of people in my class crying and they were scared. They thought the shooter was going to come in the classroom.”
Jaidyn told the Times the teacher told the class to get up, run and follow her out of an emergency exit that leads outdoors.
School district officials said they were working to reunite parents and students as quickly as possible. Parents were told to go to Cajon High School, where they would be able to meet students.
“It’s going to be all right. If we be patient, they’re going to bring our kids to us,” Regina Hamilton, the grandmother of a North Park student, told the San Bernardino Sun, while hugging a stranger. “My baby is safe, but how can I rejoice in that when I know other babies aren’t?”
Superintendent Dale Marsden said the school would be closed for at least two days. He said it is an “absolutely tragic event. Our hearts are broken. … It’s going to take time for our heads and our hearts to heal.”