In the midst of mayhem, a resident in the Rancho Tehama Reserve community of Northern California where a Tuesday morning shooting rampage ended with the slaying of the gunman, reportedly told the Los Angeles Times, “It’s not the gun, it’s not mental illness. It’s not anything, it’s just life, unfortunately.”
The quote was attributed to Tiffany Rodgers, who operates a small coffee shop with her husband, Brian.
Liberty Park Press contacted the coffee shop, Coffee Addiction, but was told by a woman who answered the telephone that the shop was not providing any comments.
But according to the Los Angeles Times, Rodgers reportedly observed:
“I just want to make sure this town doesn’t get a bad name. Such a beautiful, remote community and this happens everywhere. And I’m really hoping they don’t go for the gun violence portion of this, either, because it’s not a gun. I own guns. I take my kids shooting. It’s the person. And sometimes just bad things happen.”
The Associated Press is reporting that in his final conversation with his mother, Neal told her, “All of a sudden, now I’m on a cliff and there’s nowhere to go.”
Fox News headlined its Wednesday update “California gunman’s ongoing feud with neighbors may have led to shooting, mother says.” The story asserts that Neal had been in a “longstanding dispute” with neighbors and he had complained that fumes from a methamphetamine operation were “harming his nine dogs.”
The Daily Mail reported that his family said Neal had a violent temper. That newspaper also said he had been arrested and charged with second degree burglary earlier this year, plus assault with a deadly weapon, discharge of a firearm with gross negligence, possession of an assault weapon and misdemeanor battery. A trial date had been set for January.
Neal was killed Tuesday by Tehama County sheriff’s deputies, after a wild shooting spree that included an unsuccessful attempt to enter the Rancho Tehama Elementary School, but it had been locked down. There were seven different crime scenes, one stolen truck and a lot of ground to process.
Neal’s mother reportedly told the Associated Press that her son told her, “No matter where I go for help here I get nobody who will help me. All they are doing is trying to execute me here.”
Investigators reportedly recovered a semiautomatic rifle and two handguns at the scene where Neal was killed. A fourth gun reportedly was in the vehicle Neal was driving when he was stopped, but it was not identified.
There are two images emerging of the Rancho Tehama Reserve community, one of a close-knit community of neighbors and friends with a rural standard of living and low median income, and the other that is Wild West.
In a report published by KTVU News, former Tehama County Sheriff’s Deputy Kyle Pflager alleged that the community is home to marijuana growers and armed ex-felons, where trouble frequently develops between the pot farmers.
“There’s a lots of violence out there,’’ he said. “The people out there know how to grow marijuana and they do it very well. But there’s also a lot of disturbances between people and there is usually a weapon involved. There are a ton of guns out there in the hands of the wrong people.”
But KTVU, the Fox affiliate, also heard from Rancho Tehama Community Church Pastor Stephen May, who said, “The Rancho Tehama community has some really neat people in it. We do have some homeless, some guys who have been in prison and a lot of people who just want to get away from things. But in the midst of that is a great little community church and it’s really gorgeous up here.”