RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN/AP/WNCT) — The man who went on a shooting rampage in Northern California attended East Carolina University more than 10 years ago, the school confirmed Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Kevin Neal used a semiautomatic rifle and two handguns to shoot and kill four people and wound 10 before he died in a shooting with police. Authorities later found Neal’s wife dead inside their home; her body hidden under the floor.
East Carolina University confirmed Kevin Neal attended the school from August 2001 to May 2004.
He did not declare a major, but he was an intended music major, according to the university. He did not graduate.
Neal was raised in Cary, and his family still lives in the Raleigh area.
Stephanie Romero was a neighbor of Neal’s for three years, and she said no one saw something like this coming.
“”You know, he was just as nice and well-mannered as anyone else you would ever be,” Romero said. “You know, it’s just, I don’t understand how it went to this point.”
The Associated Press called Neal’s mother, Anne, on Tuesday night in regards to the shooting, but she thought it was about his past crimes, a family member said. The Associated Press broke the news about the rampage shooting to the mother of the man authorities say was the shooter.
According to the Associated Press, Neal was out on bail for a charge of stabbing a neighbor, had been the object of complaints from neighbors who said he had been firing off hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and had been the subject of a domestic violence call the day before the attack.
According to the family, Neal and his mother had not seen each other in 5 years but talked daily and were close. The gunman moved to California about 12 years ago.
The family told CBS North Carolina that Neal was very smart, but “troubled.”
The family released a statement to the media saying, “We feel horrible for everyone out there involved. We are very sorry. The kids won’t ever forget this.”
The gunman’s sister, Sheridan Orr, told the Associated Press her brother had struggled with mental illness throughout his life and at times had a violent temper.
She said Neal had “no business” owning firearms.
Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said the shooter was facing charges of assaulting one of the feuding neighbors in January and that she had a restraining order against him.
Johnston did not comment on the shooter’s access to firearms.
Neal’s mother told The Associated Press her son, who was a marijuana grower, was in a long-running dispute with neighbors he believed were cooking methamphetamine.
She said she posted his $160,000 bail and spent $10,000 on a lawyer after he was arrested in January for stabbing a neighbor. Neal’s mother said the neighbor was slightly cut after Neal grabbed a steak knife out of the hand of the neighbor who was threatening him with it.
She wept as she told The Associated Press she spoke to Neal on the phone on Monday.
“Mom it’s all over now,” she said he told her. “I have done everything I could do and I am fighting against everyone who lives in this area.”
She said Neal apologized to her during their brief conversation, she thought for all the money she had spent on him, saying he was “on a cliff” and the people around him were trying to “execute” him.
“I think the motive of getting even with his neighbors and when it went that far — he just went on a rampage,” Johnston said.
Police said surveillance video shows the shooter unsuccessfully trying to enter a nearby elementary school after quick-thinking staff members locked the outside doors and barricaded themselves inside when they heard gunshots.
Johnston said the gunman spent about six minutes shooting into Rancho Tehama Elementary School before driving off to continue shooting elsewhere. Johnston said one student was shot but is expected to survive.
He said the 45-minute rampage ended when a patrol car rammed the stolen vehicle the shooter was driving and killed him in a shootout.
Johnston said officials received multiple 911 calls about gunfire at an intersection of two dirt roads. Minutes later, more calls reporting shots flooded in from different locations, including the school.
Family members told CBS North Carolina that Neal had a long criminal history in Wake County.