Jury finds man sane in Calif. school shooting

AP News
Posted: Mar 16, 2012 5:20 PM
Jury finds man sane in Calif. school shooting

A gunman who opened fire on a crowded playground at a San Diego County elementary school, wounding two girls, was legally sane during the attack, a jury ruled Friday.

The Superior Court panel decided that Brendan O'Rourke, 42, understood right from wrong during the Oct. 8, 2010, attack at Kelly Elementary School in Carlsbad. Instead of confinement to a mental hospital, he now faces 103 years to life in state prison when he is sentenced April 20.

The telecommunications technician from Oceanside was convicted earlier this month of seven counts of attempted murder with premeditation and deliberation, and seven counts of assault with a firearm.

Jurors began deliberations in the sanity phase of his trial Wednesday. They told the judge they were deadlocked Thursday but were ordered to continue discussions, said Steve Walker, a spokesman for the county district attorney's office.

"The community was deeply shaken by this school shooting, and today's verdict means the defendant will be held accountable for his crimes," District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis said in a statement.

Prosecutors said O'Rourke had a .357 Magnum revolver, extra ammunition, a gas can and matches when he drove to the school, jumped a fence and opened fire.

He fired at least six shots on playgrounds packed with more than 200 children and then tried to reload but a round jammed in the gun, authorities said.

Two girls, ages 6 and 7, were each shot in an arm.

O'Rourke was captured when a construction worker building a school cafeteria hit him with a truck and two others wrestled away the gun.

O'Rourke's public defender, Daniel Segura, argued in court that his client was mentally ill.

"I don't think there's any dispute that his delusions drove him to do it," Segura said after Friday's ruling.

At trial, prosecutor Summer Stephan argued that O'Rourke had planned a terrorist attack. The prosecutor did not offer a specific motive for the attack but said O'Rourke had made statements indicating he was angry with President Barack Obama, several insurance companies and others.

Carlsbad police said the walls of O'Rourke's apartment in Oceanside had been painted with the words "destroy" and "Christian," and other writing indicated he was angry with the insurance companies AIG and State Farm.

The shooting shocked the school, which serves one of the wealthiest communities in the United States, a generally crime-free area about a 30-minute drive north of San Diego noted for its scenic beaches and luxury resorts.