School shooter sentenced to 189 years behind bars - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

School shooter sentenced to 189 years behind bars

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VISTA (CNS) - A man who walked onto the campus of a Carlsbad elementary school and began firing a handgun into a crowd of about 230 students during a midday recess, wounding two second-graders, was sentenced Friday to 189 years to life in state prison.

Brendan O'Rourke, 42, was convicted last month of seven counts each of premeditated attempted murder and assault with a firearm for the Oct. 8, 2010, attack at Kelly Elementary School. Jurors also found that O'Rourke was sane at the time of the shooting rampage.

Deputy District Attorney Summer Stephan successfully argued for the maximum sentence, urging Vista Superior Court Judge Aaron Katz to take into account all the victims in "seven separate acts of violence."

"He (O'Rourke) actually moved about the playground approaching children," the prosecutor said.

Janice Scott, a teacher and parent at Kelly Elementary, said she cannot believe no one was killed in the attack, although emotional and psychological issues remain.

"Make no mistake, no casualties does not equal no damage," Scott said. "We are grateful to be part of a miracle. We are going to be OK."

Fern Hartzler, an aide, wondered how anyone could carry out such as act of premeditated "terrorism" at an elementary school.

"I forgive you," Hartzler told O'Rourke. "Will I forget? Probably never."

Diana Handojo said her daughter, then 7, was on the playground when O'Rourke began firing a .357 Magnum.

"As a parent, you want your child to feel safe in the world," she said.

The mother said she was glad O'Rourke was getting a life sentence, so, as her daughter told her, "he won't be able to hurt people over again."

Katz told O'Rourke that his "twisted plot" terrorized teachers and children at school, where they're supposed to be safe.

The judge said teachers and volunteers "put their lives in harm's way to protect innocent lives."

Praising the youngsters who came into court and testified, Katz said, "These children served as an inspiration to all of us."

The two second-grade girls wounded in the shooting were each shot in an arm above the elbow.

Deputy Public Defender Dan Segura told jurors that delusions and a mental disease led the defendant to believe his former employer, AIG Inc., and Illinois politicians were involved in a conspiracy against him.

Four psychiatrists testified that O'Rourke was suffering from schizophrenia or a delusion disorder, or a combination of both, when he opened fire on the school grounds.

Among O'Rourke's mental illnesses is a "persecutory delusion" that someone is out to get him, his attorney said. The disease makes people lose touch with reality and believe things that are not true, Segura told the jury.

But Stephan argued that O'Rourke was angry, possibly because he recently had been evicted from his apartment, and that he gave police conflicting statements on why he carried out the attack.

Segura told the judge today that O'Rourke's violent conduct evolved like a "domino effect" from his mental illness.

Segura said O'Rourke's mental illness is "clearly severe" and was "clearly something that led to this offense."

The attorney got the judge to recommend that the defendant be sent to a prison with a program to treat the mentally ill.

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