ELISE HU, HOST:
Five people are dead and 10 injured in what authorities are describing as a shooting rampage in a rural community in Northern California. They're also saying the incident could have been much worse. A gunman opened fire at several different places in the Rancho Tehama community earlier this morning, including an elementary school, before he was killed by authorities. NPR's Richard Gonzales is following this story, and he joins me now. Richard, hello.
RICHARD GONZALES, BYLINE: Hi.
HU: So from what you've reported, what can you tell us about what happened?
GONZALES: Well, it all started around 8 a.m. this morning in a rural community about two hours north of Sacramento. And that's when authorities started getting phone calls about an active shooter and shots being fired at multiple places in Rancho Tehama, including the community's elementary school.
And as you mentioned, authorities are saying this could have been much worse. The shooter broke into a schoolyard, crashing his car through the gate. And he sprayed the building with gunfire. An assistant sheriff said that only the quick thinking of school officials who put the school on lockdown prevented more deaths. And here's the assistant sheriff of Tehama County, Phil Johnston.
(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)
PHIL JOHNSTON: The quick action of those school officials, there is no doubt in my mind based on the video that I saw, saved countless lives and children.
GONZALES: And authorities are saying that two police officers engaged the gunman not long after that. The gunman was shot and killed in that exchange. And they were able to recover three weapons - a semiautomatic rifle and two handguns - from the scene.
HU: What do we know at this point about the gunman and a possible motive?
GONZALES: Well, the Tehama County Sheriff's Office says they believe they've identified the shooter, but they're not saying who he is outside of him being an adult male. They can't say pending notification of next of kin. The assistant sheriff, Johnston, also said that one of the first victims who was killed was a woman who had filed a temporary restraining order against the shooter earlier this year.
Now, this might sound familiar to people who follow mass shootings. As we reported just a week ago in south Texas, the shooter in that case had a history of domestic violence that authorities believe was part of this motivation. So it sounds like something stemming out of that incident led to this situation where the gunman just started targeting random people in his community.
HU: And the victims now, Richard - I understand there's five dead including the shooter.
GONZALES: Yes. That includes the gunman. He's included in that count. We don't know a lot about the other victims at this point. The Sheriff's Office says that 10 people were hospitalized, including some children. We heard later that at least three of those people have been since been released. At least one child was shot at the elementary school and was transported to a nearby hospital. Another child was with her mother in their truck on a roadway in the town. And at an earlier press conference, authorities said that the numbers could change as they investigate all of the different crime scenes.
Now, we're talking about a very rural area. The website for the community describes it as a quiet country community. And so just getting there and investigating all these places should take some time. There are a hundred law enforcement officers on the scene doing that - FBI, Department of Justice. I'm sure that we'll be getting more information tomorrow and in the days to come.
HU: NPR's Richard Gonzales - Richard, thanks.
GONZALES: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.