An armed psychopath walked into the elementary school classroom where his ex-wife worked Monday and fatally shot her, an 8-year-old boy, and wounded a 9-year-old student before fatally shooting himself. It was a cowardly and horrifying act of love turned evil, and had America asking, “why!?”
Cedric Anderson’s chilling Facebook posts offer insight — behind his sweet exterior was a seething rage that turned him into a murderer.
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Anderson and his victim, Karen Smith, wed on January 28th, but Smith left him about a month and a half later, police and family members said.
Smith’s mother, Irma Sykes, said her daughter had been friends with Anderson for about four years before they got married.
“She thought she had a wonderful husband, but she found out he was not wonderful at all,” Sykes told The Los Angeles Times.
“He had other motives,” Sykes said. “She left him and that’s where the trouble began. She broke up with him and he came out with a different personality. She decided she needed to leave him.” She did not elaborate further.
Anderson hid his troubled mind behind constant Facebook posts professing his love and affection for Smith, who he referred to as an “angel.”
He also created the facade of a religious man, posting images about God and Biblical quotes.
From the outside, Anderson appeared to be a loving husband and devoted Christian, but his actions Monday revealed his true homicidal nature.
San Bernardino police have said nothing of what might have motivated Anderson to open fire in the special-education classroom at North Park Elementary School on Monday.
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“No one has come forward to say they saw this coming,” police Chief Jarrod Burguan said, though Anderson had a history of weapons, domestic violence and possible drug charges that predated the marriage.
School staffers knew Anderson, who followed the proper protocol and got into the school through the front office by saying he had to drop something off for Smith, school district officials said.
Smith was his target and the two boys were hit as he was firing at her, Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said. He emptied and reloaded the gun before turning it on himself.
There were 15 students in the special needs classroom ranging from first to fourth grade, along with two adult aides, Burguan said.
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Eight-year-old Jonathan Martinez was airlifted to a hospital, where he was declared dead. The 9-year-old boy, whose name was not released, remained hospitalized Monday night.
The 600 other students at the school were bused to safety at California State University’s San Bernardino campus, several miles away, after many walked off campus hand-in-hand, escorted by police.
Panicked parents had to wait hours before being reunited with them at a nearby high school.
Holly Penalber, whose 9-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter attend the school, called it “every parent’s worst nightmare.” She said the long wait was “frustrating but also understandable.”
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.
Once a major rail hub and citrus producer, the city of 216,000 people filed for bankruptcy in 2012 after struggling to pay its employees despite steep cuts to the budget. It was hit hard by the great recession, seeing rises in unemployment and violent crime.
An overflow crowd gathered at sunset at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in San Bernardino to mourn and pray for the victims and survivors of Monday’s shooting. One man wore a shirt that read “stop the violence in SB.”
“Sometimes all we can do is cry. And today is the day for that,” Bishop Gerald R. Barnes told the gathering. “We’ll get up again. We’ll move on. We’ll become stronger. But today is the day to cry.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.