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7-Year-Old Boy Loses Father and Grandmother in Rancho Tehama School Shooting

By Chris Jasurek

An otherwise normal Tuesday morning for 7-year-old Gage turned upside down when his school teacher called everyone back inside and told them to hide under their desks on Nov. 14. The teacher locked the classroom door, seconds before someone tried to enter.

Gage didn’t know that the school’s administration had locked down the building after hearing gunshots about a quarter-mile away.

He also didn’t know that the person trying to open the classroom door was his neighbor, Kevin Neal, who had already killed his own wife and shot at several other people.

It wasn’t until many hours later that Gage learned that his father and grandmother were among the people Neal had killed that day, before being shot down by police.

According to KCRA, Gage thinks Neal came to the school to kill him that day, determined to wipe out his whole family. Neal had had an ongoing feud with Gage’s family.

Danny and Cher with Gage before Cher died in an accident (GoFundMe)
Danny and Cher with Gage before Cher died in an accident (GoFundMe)

Gage is safe in the home of his remaining grandmother, Sissy Feitelberg, who lives in Sacramento. She has stepped up to raise her grandson, who is now an orphan; his mother died in an accident two months before the boy’s second birthday.

“I’m heartbroken and sad for the family, and really sad for Gage,” Feitelberg told KCRA. “A 7-year-old should never have to go through what he’s gone through. Right now, my main concern is Gage and getting guardianship of him.”

“I’m worried about Gage’s future,” Feitelberg said. “He’s afraid someone is going to come after him because he knew the shooter didn’t like his family.”

Feitelberg and her husband survive on social security and a small pension; supporting a growing child will be a strain, but they realized that taking Gage in was the right thing to do.

Feitelberg started a fundraiser on GoFundMe hoping to get some help to pay for attaining custody of her grandson, getting counseling for him, in addition to clothes, schooling and other necessities.

Kevin Janson Neal, 44, was well-known to local law enforcement before his shooting rampage Tuesday in Rancho Tehama. (Tehama County Sheriff's Office)
Kevin Janson Neal, 44, was well-known to local law enforcement before his shooting rampage Tuesday in Rancho Tehama. (Tehama County Sheriff’s Office)

Armed, Angry, Out on Bail

Kevin Janson Neal, 44, was well known to the local law enforcement community. He was known for shooting guns late at night, fighting with his wife, and feuding with his neighbors.

Despite being out on $160,000 bail for charges including assault with a deadly weapon, Neal was able to acquire at least three firearms, which he used to kill five people and wound 10 more.

Neal’s final rampage started on the night of Monday, Nov. 13, when he shot his wife multiple times and buried her beneath the floorboards of their home.

“We believe that’s what probably started this whole event,” Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The next morning, at around 7:45 a.m., Neal headed out into the tiny community of 1,500, armed and ready to kill, according to authorities. He first killed his neighbor, Hailey Suzanne Poland, the woman he had been accused of stabbing in the February attack for which he had been arrested.

He shot two other men, then started driving toward town in a stolen Ford pickup, firing randomly at passing vehicles, according to Johnston.

The school was locked down when he arrived, so he rammed the front gate and started shooting through the classroom walls.

Unable to enter the school building, Neal got back in his stolen truck and headed back to the road, where he rammed a passing car and shot its two occupants, killing one of them.

A passing driver pulled over, thinking it was a normal accident and people might need help. Neal shot and wounded the driver, then stole his car.

Police caught up with Neal as he was chasing and shooting at yet another vehicle. Neal fired on the officers, who rammed his car then exchanged fire with him. Police said Neal was shot dead by 8:19 a.m.

 

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