Gunman identified in Carlsbad elementary school shooting


police_tapeBy City News Service

Two Carlsbad second-graders wounded by a seemingly deranged gunman were hospitalized Friday, and the suspect was in custody.

Brendan L. O’Rourke, 41, of Oceanside, who was carrying a can of gasoline, opened fire into a crowd of students outside at Kelly Elementary School Friday, grazing two girls before being chased down by a witness, police said.

Construction worker Carlos Partida, 30, of Chula Vista, saw what was happening and used his pickup truck to knock him down. He and co-workers Steven Kane and Mario Contreras subdued O’Rourke.

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

Several classrooms of students were at recess when the shooting happened. Second-grader Shaylyn Foley, was watching the gunman, who jumped a fence and started shooting as he walked across the school yard. She warned her friend to run.

“Phoebe, he might not be a good man,” she said, “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.”

Police said O’Rourke apparently emptied a .357-caliber Magnum revolver at the children and had more bullets in a pocket. The wounded girls, 6 and 7 years old, were taken to Rady Children’s Hospital “with through-and-through wounds to each of the their right arms,” Carlsbad police Lt. Kelly Cain said.

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

The gunman, booked on six counts of attempted murder, may be a local transient. Cain said he “probably has mental health issues.”

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. Authorities discredited initial reports that he muttered something about President Barack Obama, as he was being held.

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 buddies 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 an evaluation.

Trauma counselors are expected to be at the school next week.