The gunman behind a mass shooting in Northern California last week had numerous run-ins with police in the months before the deadly gun massacre, which killed five people and injured 10 more.
The Sacramento Bee obtained police reports documenting 21 visits to Kevin Neal’s immediate neighborhood the year prior to last week’s deadly shooting. Many of these calls involved an ongoing, and escalating, dispute between Neal and his neighbors, who he had reportedly accused of operating a methamphetamine lab in their home.
Two of those neighbors, Danny Elliott and his mother Diana Lee Steele, were killed in Neal’s shooting rampage a week ago Tuesday.
Tehama Sheriff’s Department released the records in response to the newspaper’s public records request.
The incident reports also involved Neal’s wife Barbara, who was found shot to death and stuffed under the floorboards of the couple’s dilapidated home on Wednesday, November 15. Neal is believed to have shot her to death on November 13, the night before he drove through the remote town firing his gun, killing four others before he was shot to death by police.
The police reports include the most detailed account yet of an alleged stabbing that led to Neal’s arrest on January 31. He was out on bail at the time of the shooting spree, and had been ordered to surrender his firearms. Police sources have said that the two pistols Neal had with him last Tuesday were registered to another person, and the rifle he used in the shooting was homemade and not registered.
According to the incident report, Hailey Suzanne Poland, Elliot’s girlfriend, and Diane Lee Steele, his mother, were walking near a creek when Neal came at them, brandishing a knife. According to a subsequent conversation with police, Neal reportedly believed that the women had left rat poison in his yard in order to kill his dog, but investigators found that the box was empty.
During the confrontation with the women, Neal allegedly stabbed Poland. Neal’s wife reportedly told police that she observed her husband “makings stabbing motions” at the two women.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Poland took out a restraining order against Neal after the alleged assault, but later moved to another part of the state because she feared for her life.
Poland told CBS News that she moved to Southern California two months before the shooting. The Sacramento Bee reports that Poland and Steele called police three times in the same week in late August to report that Neal was firing gunshots unsafely near their home. In all three cases, responding officers arrived to find a quiet scene and did not take any action.
A few days after the neighbors reported the gunshots, Neal’s wife called police to report that neighbors had been driving by their home, yelling at them. The neighbors in the later police report were not identified.
The gunman’s sister has spoken out about her brother’s condition and his access to firearms. Sheridan Orr told the Daily News that Kevin had struggled with mental illness and did not always have a strong grasp of reality. She lamented that he did not have access to adequate mental health treatment and said he had “zero business with guns.”
[Feature image: Police handout]