AN BERNARDINO, Calif. (CBSMiami/AP) — The man who shot and killed his estranged wife and another student in her San Bernardino elementary school classroom before turning the gun on himself threatened her in the past when she moved out of their home, police said Tuesday.
Karen Smith told her loved ones that she didn’t necessarily take the threats from her new husband seriously but thought Cedric Anderson was reaching out for attention, Police Chief Jarrod Burguan told reporters.
“It appears that he had been making efforts to contact her and to have her come back home and she was resistant to that,” Burguan said. “And I don’t know if that just reached a boiling point, or what that was. Nor do we know exactly why he chose to do this at the school.”
Anderson, 53, walked into the special-education classroom Monday and opened fire with a .357 Magnum, targeting his wife but also hitting two of her students. One boy died, and another was in stable condition. He then turned the gun on himself.
The couple had married in January and separated in mid-March, with Smith leaving to stay with family, Burguan said. Anderson had accused her of infidelity, but police said they had not confirmed anything.
“Those closest to her said that she had mentioned that his behavior was odd, and that she was concerned about his behavior, and that he had made some threats toward her,” the police chief said. “He did not make a specific threat to shoot her.”
Anderson had been arrested four times from 1982 to 2013 on a weapons charge and accusations of domestic violence and theft but was never convicted in any case, authorities said. He did not have a job but previously was employed as a maintenance worker, Burguan said.
Investigators found a note that made reference to the couple’s relationship, feeling dishonored and “moving forward with no regrets,” Burguan said. But outside the context of the shooting, nothing about the note would have been alarming, he said.
Some six weeks earlier, Anderson was a newlywed calling his wife an “angel” in one of many social media posts professing his love. What appears to be Anderson’s Facebook page features the declarations amid 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 video posted Feb. 27. “Well, it makes a happy marriage.”
He posted that he “loved being married to Karen Smith-Anderson!” and shared a photo of the two of them on March 4 during what he called a date night.
A parent of two children who attend North Park Elementary described Smith as patient with the understanding to handle special-needs students. She was an excellent teacher whose whole life was about kids and helping them build a future, Marie Cabreras told The Associated Press.
The shooting came 15 months after a terror attack in San Bernardino that killed 14 people and wounded 22 others at a meeting of county employees. Husband-and-wife shooters Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik were later killed in a gunbattle with authorities.
School district officials said classes at North Park Elementary would resume Monday. School staffers knew Anderson, who followed the proper protocol and checked in through the front office, saying he had to drop something off for Smith, officials said.
The student who was killed, Jonathan Martinez, was born with a genetic condition and had survived heart surgery. Jonathan had Williams syndrome, a rare disorder characterized by learning delays, mild intellectual disability and heart problems, Superintendent Dale Marsden said.
Children with the syndrome tend to be social, friendly and endearing, Marsden said, and by all accounts Jonathan was a happy child.
A 9-year-old classmate who also was wounded was watching cartoons and expected to recover, officials said. His name was not released.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)