The latest from The Record Searchlight.
!!UPDATE!! The shooter has been identified as Gregorio Enrique Estrada, 46, of Chico. Details Here
Police are calling a 47-year-old Burney man’s shooting spree from inside a Burney bank an orchestrated attack that left them no choice but to fire back.
“This was a clear, calculated ambush situation for officers and deputies,” Redding Police Lt. Scott Mayberry said today at a press conference.
Though many details are still unclear since bank tellers remain traumatized and the two customers the man shot have been in surgery, police say this is what they know:
His pockets stuffed with .50 caliber handgun ammo and a bag filled with dozens of 9 mm rounds, the gunman walked into the Main Street bank around 12:14 p.m. Tuesday.
He pointed a semi-automatic pistol at a customer’s head and pulled the trigger.
The gun misfired.
Still without saying a word, the gunman pulled back the slide on the black 9 mm Smith and Wesson and fired again, shooting Timothy Kersten, 53, of Burney in the mouth.
Remarkably, Kersten didn’t die.
Instead, bleeding from a wound in his neck, the Burney dentist managed to walk out of the bank. Witnesses said later that he appeared calm or in shock.
Kersten got into his car and began driving west toward Redding. He was hoping to make it to an emergency room.
He got only as far as the Burney fire station, just a few hundred feet down the street. Firefighters took him to a Redding hospital, where he was listed in serious (critical as of 12-17) condition today.
Shooting Kersten was just the start.
Next the gunman walked up to a teller and told her to give him some money.
Then he asked the terrified woman whether she had activated the bank’s hold up alarm.
When she said no, he told her to push it.
At some point around the time the alarm went off, the gunman fired again at another customer, Gloria Brown, 64, hitting her in the wrist with a 9 mm bullet.
She would lie bleeding for three hours until two sheriff’s deputies took the gunman down.
Like Kersten, Brown is listed in serious condition today.
The first officer to arrive in response to the bank alarm was Shasta County Sheriff’s Sgt. Marc St. Clair. He got there within minutes.
Shots from the gunman’s silver .50 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver boomed, breaking out the bank’s glass storefront and hitting St. Clair’s truck.
St. Clair immediately called for back-up and dozens of on- and off-duty deputies, Redding police and California Highway Patrol officers flooded the town. They were joined by agents with the U.S. Forest Service, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the FBI.
As action inside the bank escalated, one employee inside was in the middle of a conference call with co-workers at the its Redding office.
The co-workers heard gunshots over the telephone and notified authorities.
The employee on the telephone locked herself in the bank’s ATM room, where she called 911 and gave dispatchers information about how many people were inside the bank and other details.
Meanwhile, as backup and SWAT team members from Redding continued to arrive, the gunman fired at least two more volleys through the front window.
The bullets from the cannon-like .50 caliber ripped two inch entrance holes in the sheet metal bodies of the deputies’s patrol cars.
In total, at least 21 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition were fired. He shot the 9 mm at least 11 times.
SWAT team members were ordered to fire if they had a clear shot that wouldn’t hurt any of the women inside.
The opportunity came after 3 p.m.
Two sheriff’s SWAT deputies saw the suspect through a window. He was moving aggressively toward the women. They fired at him at least three times. One shot hit him in the chest.
SWAT medics, including armed volunteer Dr. Jesse Wells, were among the dozens of officers who responded to the bank.
He treated the gunman’s wound and continued to treat him in the ambulance that drove him to Mercy Medical Center in Redding. The medics also patched up Brown before she was taken to Mayers Memorial Hospital in Fall River Mills.
Bad weather prevented using a helicopter to move the wounded to the hospital.
Officials say it’s doubtful a medical flight would have made much difference to the gunman as his wound appeared to be mortal.
He was pronounced dead Tuesday evening at Mercy.
An autopsy report Tuesday afternoon listed the man’s cause of death as a single shot to his chest.
The gunman’s name hasn’t yet been released, pending notification of family members.
The two deputies who shot the man remain on paid administrative leave, standard procedure in officer-involved shooting cases.
Meanwhile, Redding police, who are handling the investigation, kept several blocks of Highway 299, Main Street, through Burney closed this morning as investigators collected evidence and took photographs in and around the U.S. Bank branch.
One lane of the four-lane road was reopened in each direction about 2 p.m.
Traffic trickled by as many motorists slowed to look at the bullet battered Shasta County Sheriff’s SUV still parked in front of the bank.
Burney residents today talked about Tuesday’s standoff and shooting in the grocery line, at the cafe counter and in front of the deli counter.
The small town an hour’s drive east of Redding was still shaken by the dramatic scene of a SWAT team and the crushing roar of .50 caliber gunfire.
Lisa Wilburn, 19, said the shooting left the town of 3,000 people on edge.
“That was a pretty big thing to happen in Burney,” she said.
Rumors swirled around town about who the gunman might have been and whether he had help.
Sgt. Bruce Bonner of the Redding Police Department, said investigators were taking any tips seriously as they investigated the shooting and robbery, but it appeared this afternoon that the gunman acted alone.
“There is no indication that he came with anyone else,” Bonner said.
Evelyn Jacobs, Northern California regional president for U.S. Bank in Redding, said the tight-knit community has given the three bank employees a remarkable amount of support.
The bank has offered the women counseling, but she said the women are doing remarkably well thanks to the support of family and friends.
“They amaze me,” Jacobs said.
Wow, just wow. I don’t know the two who were shot but have probably seen them in passing in Burney. I wish them a speedy recovery. As for the girls in the bank, whom I’ve known for years, thank God for keeping you safe and I and my wife will see you soon. To the shooter, still unidentified, Rot In Hell, Bastard!