Woman with local ties lived next to California shooter

Crime tape blocks off Rancho Tehama Road leading into the Rancho Tehama subdivision south of Red Bluff, Calif., following a fatal shooting on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. (Jim Schultz/The Record Searchlight via AP)

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The news out of Rancho Tehama, California shocked the nation.

For Stefanie Romero, the news hit especially close to home.

Romero said, “Just the fact that he was our neighbor and we let him in our house and you know gave them food for holiday’s him and his wife, Barbara.”

Romero lived in New Bern before moving to California in 2012.

She lived right next door to shooter Kevin Neal for two and a half years.

“It’s just mind-blowing because he wasn’t that type of man when we lived beside him,” said Romero.

Neal lived in Cary, North Carolina for several years before heading to California himself.

Records from the Wake County Justice Center show Neal, had a criminal record as recent as 2009.

He was charged with several traffic violations and was arrested for possession of marijuana.

Romero said, “He moved to start over and have a fresh start.”

She recalled the moment she found out the news and immediately called the neighbor living on the other side of Neal.

“He was just in tears telling me that he had shot his wife in front of him,” said Romero of the other neighbor. “He was so emotional he said there was a dispute and he went outside and saw Kevin lift the gun and shoot his wife and his step-son in front of him.”

Romero said by this point, Neal had shot his own wife and two of his neighbors.

Police believe he went on a shooting spree throughout the town of nearly 1,500 people.

“He just started shooting anybody he saw he shot at,” Romero said.

Neal’s last attempt was at a local school. The school was on lockdown so he shot at the school from afar.

“Those teachers saved those children’s lives,” said Romero.

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