Murder-suicide in San Bernardino classroom: 'He just shot everywhere'

A 9-year-old girl in a gray zip-up sweater ran to her mother in tears.

"Mommy, I still have blood on my sweater," she cried.

Elisabeth Barajaz had reunited with her daughter Marissa after hearing there had been a shooting at her San Bernardino school.

"The boy just walked in with the gun,” said Marissa, a third-grader. “He just shot everywhere. 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."

A gunman had walked into a North Park Elementary School classroom of special needs children Monday morning and opened fire on his wife, a teacher there, and then killed himself, police said. Stray bullets struck two students, who were rushed to a hospital in critical condition. One of them, an 8-year-old boy, died later in the morning.

Word of the shooting set off a panic in a city traumatized by a terror attack just 16 months before. Where the unthinkable had already happened, nerves were triggered for a catastrophe.

Parents wept as they waited for word of their children outside North Park. One woman fell to her knees. A man tried to push through the police line to get inside.

As details emerged, it was clear the shooting was domestic violence, not terrorism — another terrible day in a wave of mayhem that has shaken the city as much as the December 2015 mass shooting and taken many more lives.

Cedric Anderson, 53, of Riverside, entered the school's front office and checked in, saying he had to drop something off with his estranged wife, Karen Smith, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said. School officials did not see Anderson's .357 handgun, Burguan added.

About 10:27 a.m., Anderson walked into Smith’s special education classroom and, without speaking, opened fire, hitting her and two students behind her. Anderson then reloaded and shot himself, Burguan said. Smith, 53, died at the scene. Jonathan Martinez, 8, was airlifted to a hospital and died before entering surgery. A 9-year-old boy was in stable condition at Loma Linda Medical Center on Monday evening.

Burguan said Anderson had a criminal history, including weapons charges and “a domestic violence past” that preceded his relationship with Smith. Los Angeles County Superior Court records show that Anderson was charged in July 2013 with assault and battery, brandishing a firearm and disturbing the peace.

Burguan added that it was “not uncommon” for a person to be able to gain access to a campus to meet his or her spouse. San Bernardino City Unified School District Supt. Dale Marsden said the school's staff followed entry procedures, including asking Anderson for identification.

Smith’s mother, Irma Sykes, said her daughter and Anderson had been friends for about four years before getting married in January.

But a month after they moved in together, Anderson showed a different side to his personality and Smith “decided she needed to leave him,” Sykes said in a telephone interview.

Sykes declined to provide details of Anderson’s behavior.

She said her daughter pursued a teaching career after raising four children. Smith earned a degree and teaching credentials at Cal State San Bernardino about a decade ago, Sykes said, because she had a passion for helping children with autism and learning disabilities.

Diane Abrams, who worked in the special needs class, said Smith was a “beloved teacher” who “went to bat for every one of her students.”

Abrams remembered Jonathan as an “8-year-old boy full of life. He was so special to teach. … He was curious to learn. He'd say, ‘Ms. Abrams, am I being an all-star?’"

"She was very kind," Barajaz said of Smith. "She would always tell me how Marissa was doing."

In the end, she had one haunting question: “How did he get in?”

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