The students of Rancho Tehama Elementary returned to school Monday, nearly two weeks after a deadly shooting rampage rocked their community.
As ABC10 has reported, the Tehama County Sheriff's Office says a man named Kevin Neal killed his wife on Nov. 13. Then, the next morning, he went on a shooting spree, targeting strangers and the elementary school.
On Monday morning, dozens of law enforcement officers lined the entryway to Rancho Tehama Elementary, offering support and security to the students and staff members.
10-year-old Saul Solorio, with his mom and stepdad's permission, told ABC10 News about the day the shooter crashed through the playground gates and opened fire on the school.
"When I heard the shooting, I thought it was just a basketball that just popped, but then after another shooting, everyone heard another shooting, everyone just ran inside," Saul said.
He hid under the table while a teacher guarded the door, he said.
"Someone kept shooting the window with a gun and the window got broken," he recalled. "There was two kids who were hurt. One of them had bleeding from the head, and the other one was bleeding right here. It was a boy and a girl. Everyone else was scared. I was holding onto the table thinking, 'Why is this happening?'"
He said the dozens of law enforcement officers greeting students Monday morning - and the handful who stayed throughout the day - made him feel "safer."
Saul said he and his younger brother, who is also a student there, did not get hurt and he knows that the shooter is dead.
Still, he said, "right now, I'm scared that there's going to be another shooting."
What a terrible thing for a child to experience.
In a statement, Corning Union Elementary School District superintendent Richard Fitzpatrick said, "School started back today for all Rancho Elementary School students. Numerous law enforcement and fire agencies sent personnel to welcome back students and families to the school. The school was repaired during the break, and is in great shape. Students spent the day with their teachers and enjoyed many gifts donated by generous community members. We are grateful for the support of the community and look forward to returning to the regular school activities as we enter into the busy holiday season."
Community members donated gifts like stuffed animals and coloring books. Saul said he was glad to receive those on Monday.
Outside the school office now hangs a banner that reads Rancho Strong. That wasn't there at the time of the shooting.
Despite all the trauma these students and staff members have experienced, the sound of laughter on the playground rang in the air Monday afternoon.
Counselors have been available for students and staff members, as they process that morning.
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