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Wife of California rampage gunman found dead

The wife of a gunman who went on a shooting rampage in a northern California town has been found dead inside their home.

Investigators discovered the body of Kevin Janson Neal's wife hidden under the floor. They believe her murder was the start of the rampage, said Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston.

Neal shot and killed four other people and wounded 10 at different locations around the rural community of Rancho Tehama Reserve. Police later shot and killed him.

At the time of the attack, the gunman was out on bail after he was charged with stabbing a neighbour.

Others had complained about him firing hundreds of rounds from his house, and he had been the subject of a domestic violence call the day before the shootings.

Yet Neal was free and able to use a semi-automatic rifle and two handguns on Tuesday to shoot 14 people, including at an elementary school, before he died in a shootout with police.

It is not yet clear what the terms of Neal's bail were, and whether he would have been allowed to possess and fire the weapons on his property at the end of a dirt road in Rancho Tehama Reserve.

But his many contacts with authorities raised questions of why he was out of custody and able to go on the 45-minute rampage. Two of his neighbours were killed in an apparent act of revenge before he went looking for random victims.

Cristal Caravez and her father live across a ravine from the road where the gunman and his first victims lived.

She said they and others heard constant gunfire from the area of the gunman's house but could not say for sure it was him firing.

"You could hear the yelling. He'd go off the hinges," she said. "It (shooting) would be during the day, during the night, I mean, it didn't matter."

She and her father, who is president of the homeowners association, said neighbours would complain to the sheriff's department, which referred the complaints back to the homeowners association.

The gunman's sister, Sheridan Orr, said her brother had struggled with mental illness throughout his life and at times had a violent temper.

Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said Neal was facing charges of assaulting one of the feuding neighbours in January and that she had a restraining order against him.

Neal's mother told the Associated Press her son, who was a marijuana grower, was in a long-running dispute with neighbours he believed were cooking methamphetamine.

The mother, who spoke on condition she be named only as Anne because she fears for her safety, lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she raised Neal.

She said she posted his 160,000 US dollar (£121,000) bail and spent 10,000 dollars (£7,500) on a lawyer after he was arrested in January for stabbing a neighbour.

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.

Mr Johnston said the gunman spent about six minutes shooting into Rancho Tehama Elementary School before driving off to continue shooting elsewhere. 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.

AP

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