The man suspected of opening fire at a Carlsbad elementary school, wounding two girls, had a minor brush with the law in 2002 in Illinois when he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor telephone harassment, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Bonnie Ramirez said Brendan O’Rourke was rooming with her son in Springfield, Ill., when he was fired from an insurance company and fell into a deep depression.
Ramirez said her son tried to get O’Rourke help at a hospital, but nothing was done for him. Her son asked him to move out and that’s when O’Rourke became angry.
Ramirez said O’Rourke began calling them 20 to 30 times a day. At one point, he called her 228 times over five days.
“He was very, very disturbed,” Ramirez, 68, told the Union-Tribune Tuesday from her Springfield home.
O’Rourke was sentenced to one year probation and fined $300 after pleading guilty to the misdemeanor charge, Ramirez said.
O’Rourke was scheduled to be arraigned in Vista Superior Court on six counts of attempted murder for each of the rounds fired at Kelly Elementary School last Friday and another count for allegedly pointing the empty gun at a school staffer and pulling the trigger.
Police believe O’Rourke armed himself with a .357-magnum revolver, jumped a fence and opened fire toward the crowded playground. The two girls, ages 6 and 7, were each shot in an arm. Both are recovering.
Construction workers building a school cafeteria chased the gunman and held him until police arrived.
Carlsbad police said that when they went into O’Rourke’s apartment in Oceanside after Friday’s shooting they found the walls spray painted with the words “destroy” and “Christian,” and writings indicating he was angry with the insurance companies AIG and State Farm.
Carlsbad Police Lt. Kelly Cain said O’Rourke worked as a phone or computer technician at NTN Communications Inc., a video entertainment firm in Carlsbad that installs games and video equipment in bars and restaurants. The business is about two miles south of the school.
Michele Hincks, the company’s vice president of marketing, confirmed O’Rourke’s employment but declined to say what his job was.
“We are cooperating fully with police, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the two little girls and all those at Kelly Elementary,” she said.
Oceanside police records show that officers were called to O’Rourke’s Garrison Street apartment three times this year after receiving noise complaints, according to the Union-Tribune. Each time he refused to answer the door and the noise stopped.
Kelly Elementary School for kindergarten-through-sixth-graders 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 such as La Costa, which has hosted major tennis and golf tournaments.
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