Friday, March 16, 2012
A man who walked onto the campus of a Carlsbad elementary school and began firing a .357-Magnum into a crowd of about 230 students during a midday recess, injuring two second-grade girls, was sane at the time of the shooting, a jury found today.
Brendan O'Rourke, 42, was convicted last week of seven counts each of premeditated attempted murder and assault with a firearm for the Oct. 8, 2010, attack at Kelly Elementary School.
O'Rourke faces 101 years to life in prison when he is sentenced April 20 by Vista Superior Court Judge Aaron Katz.
Jurors deliberated for just more than a day in the sanity phase of O'Rourke's trial.
"I am so beyond proud of these children at Kelly Elementary School who bravely came in (to court) and they faced the person who pointed a gun and shot at them," Deputy District Attorney Summer Stephan said.
Stephan also heaped praise on the school's staff for the actions they took to protect children during the rampage.
"There was only one villain that day, and there were a ton of heroes," she said. "This is a case where every staff member covered the bodies of children, ... covered kids who were in wheelchairs, tried to protect them, put their lives second to the lives of the kids."
Deputy Public Defender Dan Segura told jurors that delusions and a mental disease led the defendant to believe that his former employer, AIG Inc., and Illinois politicians were involved in a conspiracy against him.
A number of psychiatrists testified that O'Rourke was suffering from schizophrenia or a delusion disorder, or a combination of both, when he opened fire on the school grounds.
Among O'Rourke's mental illnesses is a "persecutory delusion" that someone is out to get him, his attorney said. The disease makes people lose touch with reality and believing things that are not true," Segura told the jury.
But Stephan argued that O'Rourke was angry, possibly because he recently had been evicted from his apartment, and that he gave police conflicting statements on why he carried out the attack.
One psychiatrist testified that O'Rourke was delusional when he opened fire at the school but knew it was wrong, both legally and morally.
Stephan noted that if jurors had found O'Rourke insane, he could have petitioned to have his sanity legally restored after one year.
O'Rourke's shooting spree ended when he tried to reload his weapon, but the gun jammed.