A gunman fatally shot his wife and one of her young students at a San Bernardino, Calif., school Monday, before turning the gun on himself, officials said.
The slain boy, Jonathan Martinez, 8, was an innocent bystander struck by bullets meant for his teacher Karen Smith.
Smith’s husband opened fire with a concealed handgun he snuck into the special needs classroom at North Park Elementary School, cops said at a press conference.
Cedric Anderson, 53, walked into the school saying he needed to drop something off for Smith, also 53. He brandished the weapon in front of her 15 students, two teaching aides and opened fire. A 9-year-old was wounded in the assault but was in stable condition late Monday.
San Bernardino police said the children were not the gunman’s targets, but were “the unfortunate victims of injuries from being in close proximity” to the instructor.
Jonathan was airlifted to a local hospital where he died.
Anderson, who police said may have been recently estranged from Smith after a brief marriage, reloaded at least once before shooting himself in the head with a revolver, authorities said.
San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said the suspect had a criminal history, including domestic violence arrests from a previous relationship.
It was not immediately clear what led to the alleged murder-suicide. After the shooting, cops in Riverside swarmed Smith’s home in a gated community and roped it off.
A neighbor across the street initially assumed the heavy police presence had to do with drugs. He said he sometimes heard “arguments and yelling” from the couple’s home.
“But it never sounded like domestic abuse, more like someone at their end of their rope just venting,” neighbor Nathan Morris told The News.
“It’s so sad,” he said of the fatal shooting.
Project Islamic Hope Najee Ali, who knew Anderson from community activism, learned of his pending divorce before that attack.
He once thought of Anderson as a “respected pastor” but the attack changed that.
“None of us knew the dark side in his private life,” Ali said.
“It seems he snapped. He couldn’t handle it and chose to deal with it in the most cowardly manner possible,” he added. “I can’t forgive that. I hope he burns in hell for what he did.”
An apparent Facebook profile for Anderson showed the couple on a “date night” in early March. He later called Smith his “angel.”
His wife posted on her page that she and the alleged shooter married in January.
A 10-year-old student who knew Smith from school said terrified teachers ran into his classroom “huffing and crying and puffing” after gunfire erupted.
“We had to duck down and wait,” fifth-grader Camron Marshall recalled from Cajon High School on Monday evening. “There was a SWAT team. It was a long time. We had to wait. I’m exhausted.”
He remembered Smith for her kindness.
“She was a very nice and generous and honest teacher,” he told the Daily News, alongside his grandmother.
Camron was among roughly 600 students evacuated to the nearby high school and California State University San Bernardino.
Some parents spent hours waiting to be reunited with their children, who shared their harrowing memories.
“Mommy, I still have blood on my sweater,” Marissa Perez, 9, told her mother as she hugged her, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. I heard about it at work and just took off, heading for the school,” dad Jose Ramirez told the Daily News.
The shooting brought national attention back to San Bernardino, where 14 people died in a holiday party mass shooting.
“We still haven’t really healed from the massacre at the Inland Regional Center. And for this to happen at an elementary school, it’s tantamount to pure evil,” the Rev. Arnetta Carpenter, a 70-year-old waiting for her grandchildren at a local high school, told The News.
Monday’s shooting also evoked memory of other shootings in recent years, particularly the Newtown massacre where 20 children were killed in 2013.
Gabby Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman shot at a 2011 event in Tucson, posted on Twitter, “elementary school classrooms should be safe places, full of kindness — never horror.”