San Bernardino school shooter previously threatened his wife, police say

Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said police do not know why Cedric Anderson chose to target his wife at her school.
Reed Saxon/Associated Press
San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan (left) told reporters on Tuesday that police didn’t know why Cedric Anderson chose to target his wife at her school.

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — The man who fatally shot his estranged wife and a student in her San Bernardino elementary school classroom before killing himself had threatened her when she moved out of their house, authorities said Tuesday.

Karen Smith told those closest to her that she didn’t necessarily take the threats from her new husband seriously but thought Cedric Anderson was reaching out for attention, Police Chief Jarrod Burguan told reporters.

‘‘It appears that he had been making efforts to contact her and to have her come back home and she was resistant to that,’’ Burguan said. ‘‘And I don’t know if that just reached a boiling point, or what that was. Nor do we know exactly why he chose to do this at the school.’’


Anderson, 53, walked into the special-education class Monday and opened fire with a .357 Magnum, targeting his wife but also hitting two of her students. One boy died and another is in stable condition. He then turned the gun on himself.

Karen Smith.
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The couple had married in January and separated in mid-March, with Smith leaving to stay with family, Burguan said.

‘‘Those closest to her said that she had mentioned that his behavior was odd ... and that he had made some threats toward her,’’ the police chief said. ‘‘He did not make a specific threat to shoot her.’’

Some six weeks earlier, Anderson was a newlywed calling his wife an ‘‘angel’’ in one of many social media posts professing his love. What appears to be Anderson’s Facebook page features the declarations amid statements of religious devotion before his last public post on March 15.

Anderson had posted that he ‘‘loved being married to Karen Smith-Anderson!’’ and shared a photo of the two of them on March 4 during what he called a date night.


Smith’s mother, Irma Sykes, said her daughter had been friends with Anderson for about four years before they got married. ‘‘She thought she had a wonderful husband, but she found out he was not wonderful at all,’’ Sykes told the Los Angeles Times.

‘‘He had other motives,’’ Sykes said. ‘‘She left him and that’s where the trouble began. She broke up with him and he came out with a different personality.’’

Sykes said her daughter was a dedicated teacher who took up the profession about 10 years ago after her four children grew up.

Cedric Anderson.

The shooting at North Park Elementary came 15 months after a terror attack in San Bernardino that killed 14 people and wounded 22 others at a meeting of county employees.

School district officials said classes would resume Monday. School staffers knew Anderson, who followed the proper protocol and got into the school through the front office by saying he had to drop something off for Smith, officials said.


After hundreds of students were evacuated from the school, panicked parents had to wait hours before reuniting with their children.