California gunman targeted victim, victim's son in rampage, neighbor says

The shooter who killed five people in a rural northern California community Tuesday apparently targeted his neighbor and the neighbor's 7-year-old son due to a long-simmering feud, another neighbor told a local newspaper Friday.

Johnny Phommathep, who lived about 200 feet away from gunman Kevin Neal, told the Record Searchlight of Redding that Neal threatened out loud that he was going to kill Danny Elliott and then go to the elementary school and kill Elliott's 7-year-old son, Gage.

"He'd scream to him, 'I'ma kill you, boy. I'ma learn you. Once I kill you, I'ma go kill your son at school,'" Phommathep told the paper.

Neal killed Elliott and Elliott's mother, Diana Steele, and wounded at least a dozen adults and children in his rampage across Rancho Tehama Reserve before authorities shot him dead.

The Tehama County Sheriff's Office said Neal rammed a car into the gates of Rancho Tehama Elementary School and shot at its portable classrooms. He tried repeatedly to get into a kindergarten classroom but quick-thinking staff had locked the school down, and he eventually stormed off.

Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston has said he wasn't sure why Neal headed to the school, but Phommathep said the gunman probably went there looking for Gage. The school has about 100 students, in kindergarten through fifth grades.

Gage lost his father, Danny Elliott (above left) in Tuesday's shooting rampage.

Gage lost his father, Danny Elliott (above left) in Tuesday's shooting rampage. (Sissy Feitelberg/GoFundMe)

Tehama County District Attorney Gregg Cohen also said through a spokeswoman Friday that he believes Neal targeted the school because of the child.

Gage's maternal grandmother, Sissy Feitelberg, has started a GoFundMe to raise money for the boy, who lost his mother in an accident when he was 22 months old.


Authorities found the bullet-riddled body of Neal's wife, Barbara Glisan, under the floorboards of their home. They believe her slaying was the start of the rampage.

Phommathep's wife and three of her children are among those wounded.

Tiffany Phommathep, 31, was on her way to drop off their children at school when Neal pulled up next to her and sprayed bullets into her pickup. She told reporters from her hospital bed that she was hit four times in the back and shoulder and once in the stomach.

She said she asked four people for help but none did. One woman told her she "couldn't help me because she only had a two-seater and she was late for work," Phommathep said. "That hurt my heart a lot to hear her say that."

Johnston, the assistant sheriff, came across her and helped her, her husband said.

At the time of the assault, Neal was out of custody on bail after being arrested in January and charged with stabbing Elliott's girlfriend. She obtained a restraining order against Neal in February, stating that the household required protection.

David Steele, who is Diana Steele's stepson, said his father Bob is devastated.

"If you have a restraining order on someone like that, he shouldn't even be allowed to live in the area," he said.

The gunman also killed Michelle McFayden, 55 and Joseph McHugh III, 56, both of Rancho Tehama Reserve.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.