At least four people have lost their lives and nearly a dozen others, including three children, sustained injuries in a shooting spree in the US state of California.
The shooting took place at several sites in Northern California's Tehama County on Tuesday.
Reports said the gunfire began at around 8:00 am (1600 GMT) at a home and ended at the Rancho Tehama Elementary School, located on the outskirts of the town of Corning and about 160 kilometers north of the state capital, Sacramento.
Two hospitals were treating a total of seven people, including at least three children, according to the Associated Press, which reported that one student was wounded at the school and another child and a woman were also shot while driving.
Local residents said they heard about 100 rounds of shots fired from what sounded like multiple guns.
Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston told local media that the shooter was armed with a semi-automatic rifle and two handguns, adding that the victims were randomly targeted by the gunman in multiple locations.
"I know that we have medevaced (airlifted) a number of students, I know that the school has been cleared, I know that we have the children that were attending school in a safe location at this time," Johnston said.
Declining to release the name of the shooter, the assistant sheriff (pictured below) said the assailant had barricaded himself inside a building before being gunned down by police.
Authorities in Northern California noted that the incident appeared to have started as a “domestic violence incident” but refused to provide details. Law enforcement officials said the motive for the attack was not clear but added that the gunman seemed to fire at random and might have been in some type of dispute with neighbors.
California Governor Jerry Brown said in a statement that he was "saddened to hear about today's violence in Tehama County, which shockingly involved schoolchildren."
"We offer our condolences to the families who lost loved ones and unite with all Californians in grief," Brown said.
US Vice President Mike Pence expressed sorrow over the incident on his Twitter page, saying, “Saddened to hear of the shooting in N. California, the loss of life & injuries, including innocent children. We commend the effort of courageous law enforcement. We’ll continue to monitor the situation & provide federal support, as we pray for comfort & healing for all impacted.”
The shooting came less than 10 days after a gunman fatally shot 26 people at a church in Texas. In the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history in Las Vegas last month, more than 50 people were killed and hundreds more injured at a concert.
The latest incident coincides with a new flare-up of the long-running debate on America's epidemic of gun violence and the ready accessibility of high-powered weapons.
More than 33,000 people die annually in the United States from gun-related deaths, two thirds of them suicides, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It is estimated that over 13,500 people have been killed in gun-related violence across the United States since the beginning of the year.