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Gunman in Carlsbad school shooting was carrying jack-o'-lantern as he opened fire, wounding 2 students [Updated]

October 8, 2010 |  3:20 pm

A gunman dressed in black and carrying a Halloween jack-o'-lantern or can of gasoline wounded two students at an elementary school in Carlsbad, Calif., before being tackled by construction workers.

Ed Willins, who was nearby when the incident occurred, said he saw the workers tackle the gunman. "They were on him immediately," he told The Times. "They administered a little street justice on him before the cops got there." 

Shortly after noon, the gunman rolled up to Kelly Elementary School in his car, said Lt. Kelly Cain of the Carlsbad Police Department. Armed with a .357-caliber handgun, Cain said, the assailant stepped onto the sidewalk next to the playground and started firing "wildly."

Two students suffered "non-life threatening" graze wounds and were being treated by doctors, officials said, and the bomb squad was called to examine a propane tank found in the gunman's car.

After the shooting, parents were notified and came to pick up their children at the school, located in an upper middle-class neighborhood with tall trees and a spacious park.

[Upated at 3:24 p.m.: Construction worker Carlos Partida said he saw the suspect firing his gun at the children. He said the gunman appeared to be reloading and trying to leave the scene when he jumped in his truck and rammed the man, knocking him down.

“My reaction was to get him. Get him away from the kids,” he said. Partida said he and two other construction workers held the gunman down until police arrived.

The two children were airlifted to Rady Children’s Hospital. Witnesses said they did not appear to be seriously injured as they were taken to the aircraft and that one of them even waved to onlookers.

It was an emotional scene outside the school as parents arrived to pick up their children. Many were sobbing. “I looked in his eyes and it was scary,” one little girl said of the gunman.]

Cain said the gunman, described as a white male in his 20s, has given three names, one of them a woman's name. Witnesses said the gunman was "ranting" and may have mentioned the president.

[Update 11:20 p.m.: Authorities late Friday discredited initial reports that the gunman ranted about President Obama during shooting. They identified the alleged gunman as Brendan L. O’Rourke, 41.

O'Rourke was booked on six counts of attempted murder and numerous weapons violations, police said. He is being held at the San Diego County jail in Vista.]

-- Tony Perry in Carlsbad, Calif.

Photo: A woman comforts a distraught woman after a lone gunman came on to the campus of nearby Kelly Elementary School in Carlsbad, Calif. Credit: Hayne Palmour IV / North County Times

 See more photos here.