LOS ANGELES (AP) — A brief marriage and quick estrangement came before a man walked into his wife’s elementary school class and opened fire without saying a word, killing her and an 8-year-old student and wounding a 9-year-old student before fatally shooting himself, authorities said.
Some six weeks earlier, 53-year-old Cedric Anderson was a newlywed calling his 53-year-old wife Karen Smith an “angel” in one of many social media posts professing his love.
San Bernardino police have said nothing of what might have motivated Anderson to open fire in the special-education classroom at North Park Elementary School on Monday.
“No one has come forward to say they saw this coming,” police Chief Jarrod Burguan said, though Anderson had a history of weapons, domestic violence and possible drug charges that predated the marriage.
What appears to be his Facebook page features many public declarations of his love for Smith between statements of religious devotion before his last public post on March 15.
“She knows when to ignore me,” Anderson said with a laugh in a short video posted Feb. 27. “Well, it makes a happy marriage.”
Anderson had posted that he “loved being married to Karen Smith-Anderson!” and posted a photo of the two of them on March 4 in what he described as a date night.
The page also had several photos of his wedding to Smith and their honeymoon among the scenic red rocks of Sedona, Arizona.
But Smith left him about a month and a half after their late-January marriage, police and family members said.
Smith’s mother, Irma Sykes, said her daughter had been friends with Anderson for about four years before they got married.
“She thought she had a wonderful husband, but she found out he was not wonderful at all,” Sykes told the Los Angeles Times. “He had other motives,” Sykes said. “She left him and that’s where the trouble began. She broke up with him and he came out with a different personality. She decided she needed to leave him.” She did not elaborate further.
Sykes said her daughter was a dedicated teacher who took up the profession about 10 years ago after her four children grew up.
School staffers knew Anderson, who followed the proper protocol and got into the school through the front office by saying he had to drop something off for Smith, school district officials said.
Smith was his target and the two boys were hit as he was firing at her, Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said. He emptied and reloaded the gun before turning it on himself.
There were 15 students in the special-needs classroom ranging from first to fourth grade, along with two adult aides, Burguan said.
Jonathan Martinez, 8, was airlifted to a hospital, where he was declared dead. The 9-year-old boy, whose name was not released, remained hospitalized.
The 600 other students at the school were bused to safety at California State University’s San Bernardino campus, several miles away, after many walked off campus hand-in-hand, escorted by police.
Panicked parents had to wait hours before being reunited with them at a nearby high school.