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Suspect in Carlsbad school shooting has no known ties to school

Suspect in Carlsbad school shooting has no known ties to school

CARLSBAD (CNS) - Investigators are aware of no known connection between a possibly mentally ill man and the Carlsbad elementary school he allegedly opened fire on, injuring two children, who were in good condition Saturday, police said.

Brendan L. O'Rourke, 41, of Oceanside, allegedly shot into a crowd of students on the playground of Kelly Elementary School Friday, wounding two girls in their arms before being stopped by construction workers, police said.

O'Rourke allegedly emptied a .357-caliber magnum revolver at the children and had more bullets, along with a gas can and propane tank, police said.

The girls, ages 6 and 7, were taken to Rady Children's Hospital "with through-and-through wounds to each of their right arms," said Carlsbad police Lt. Kelly Cain.

O'Rourke, who was booked on six counts of attempted murder and weapons violations, "probably has mental health issues," Cain said.

"We have no knowledge of any type of prior relationship with the school, its employees, or its parents," he said. "Rumors circulated regarding the coincidence of this crime and the ‘Cancer Cluster' issues at the site, but those have been unfounded."

Some school parents have expressed concerns about the water and ground around the school, but state health investigators have said there's no evidence of a cancer cluster in the area.

A propane tank that O'Rouke is believed to have brought to the school was found near a tan Ford Crown Victoria that he apparently drove.

No other weapons were found on the school's grounds, or in O'Rourke's car or home, and no additional suspects are thought to be involved in the shooting, Cain said.

Several classrooms of students were at recess when the shooting happened. Second grader Shaylyn Foley watched a man climb over a fence and open fire as he walked across the schoolyard. She warned her friend to run.

"Phoebe, he might not be a good man," she told reporters. "So, and then he put his hand out, and then I heard the shot, and then, I'm like, Phoebe, come on, this isn't OK."

The school was locked down, and the children were released to their parents about 2 p.m. Friday.

Three construction workers who saw the shooting and then subdued O'Rourke are being credited with saving further carnage.

Construction worker Carlos Partida, 30, of Chula Vista, used his pickup truck to knock down O'Rourke.

He and co-workers Steven Kane and Mario Contreras then held O'Rourke until police arrived.

"We kind of got him down, and we all ended up getting out bodies, fists and feet, and kicking the s--- of him, you know," Partida told a television news crew.

Partida said the experience left him a little dazed.

"I can't really explain it, man," he said. "It's a crazy, crazy feeling, man. Like, you know, it happened, it's real." Terry Lynn saw the gunman through a window from his home next to the school.

"I saw a guy walking across the field with a handgun, shooting randomly into the crowd of children," he said.

He ran outside, got into his van and sped to the school, arriving about the time Partida and his co-workers tackled O'Rourke.

The gunman's pockets were "full of" extra cartridges, along with a flashlight and other "electronic devices," Lynn said.

O'Rourke was initially taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla for a mental evaluation.

School is expected to resume on Monday, with trauma counselors on site.

This is the latest information. The original story is below.

CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP/ CBS 8) — Carlsbad Police have identified the gunman who opened fire on a crowded school playground Friday as 41-year-old Brendan L. O'Rourke of Oceanside. 

Two young children were grazed with bullets before construction workers tackled O'Rourke, authorities said. Investigators say he parked his car around noon, jumped a fence and opened fire as he walked across campus, said Carlsbad police Lt. Kelly Cain.

The students, ages 6 and 7, were not seriously injured. They are being treated at Rady Children's Hospital.

O'Rourke was booked into the Vista jail on two counts of attempted murder, and one count each of making a destructive device, terrorizing by explosive device, use of an explosive device with intent to injure or terrify, and bringing a firearm on a public school campus.  He is believed to have acted alone.

News 8 has learned O'Rourke has a valid security guard's license issued by the state of California, but that license does not permit him to carry a gun.

Records show O'Rourke has previous addresses and relatives in Illinois. He currently lives in the Canyon Creek Apartments on Garrison Street in Oceanside. Neighbors in the complex described O'Rourke as a loner with a temper. Resident Vickie Roe-Mitchell told News 8 she has called police on O'Rourke in the past for his erratic behavior.

"I'm not surprised.  I'm kind of scared of him," Roe-Mitchell said.  "He'd scream out things like, 'I'm going to burn your eyes out.  I'm going to kill you.'"

A preliminary background check Friday night showed several minor traffic violations in Illinois, but no felony criminal history in either California or Illinois under the name Brendan L. O'Rourke. However, Carlsbad police officers reported that O'Rourke initially gave them three different names during questioning.

The shooting at Kelly Elementary School broke out just after noon on Friday.

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 saw several men struggling on the side of the road.

As he approached the crowd, he says he saw bullets fall out of O'Rourke'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."

Construction worker Carlos Partida told a local news station that he ran to his truck after he saw the suspect leave the playground.

"I hit him with my truck," he said. Carlos Partida and a fellow construction worker, Mario Contreras,  detained the suspected gunman.

Terry Lynn said he looked out his window to see a man park his vehicle, jump a fence and fire a .357 Magnum revolver toward a crowd of children.

"He was saying something about the president, he was ranting," Lynn said.

Lynn said he screamed, "No! No!" and rushed to the scene. By the time he arrived, the construction workers had tackled the shooter. He helped restrain the man until police arrived.

"It was very chaotic," he told the news station.

Witnesses said O'Rourke appeared to be firing randomly and was holding something that looked like a gas tank. Cain said a propane tank was found near his car.

"I heard a gunshot and I ran to Room 23," said Kenny Speck, 6, who heard classmates crying. "Some kids went over the fence."

Speck's parents said it could have been so much worse.

"Who knows what could have happened?" said Tamera Wleklinski, his mother. "I am so grateful to the construction workers. They deserve lunch and free donuts for the rest of the year."

Norma Cevallas, who picked up her kindergarten son an hour earlier, was at home when she heard four shots.

"We ran into a room and stayed there," she said. "We didn't want to come out."

The school was placed on lockdown while parents waited for their children in a nearby park.

"It was total panic not knowing what was going on and if our children were OK," Robert Speck, 43, said after reuniting with his son.

Courts are closed because of the Columbus Day holiday Monday, so O'Rourke is scheduled to be arraigned in Vista on Wednesday, according to his jail booking sheet.


Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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