Man Convicted of Opening Fire at Carlsbad School, Wounding Two Girls
A man who wounded two second-graders during a shooting rampage at a Carlsbad elementary school was convicted today of seven counts each of premeditated attempted murder and assault with a firearm.
Jurors deliberated for less than an hour before finding Brendan O'Rourke guilty. A sanity phase begins tomorrow, in which the defense has the burden to prove that O'Rourke, 42, was insane when he opened fire during lunch recess on the playground at Kelly Elementary School on Oct. 8, 2010.
If the defendant is found sane, he faces 103 years to life in state prison. If the jury finds him insane, he could be sent to a state mental hospital.
In her closing argument in the trial's guilt phase, Deputy District Attorney Summer Stephan told jurors that the defendant climbed a fence at Kelly Elementary around noon and fired six shots at children, wounding two girls who suffered arm wounds.
O'Rourke's crime spree certainly would have been much worse had it not been for school staffers who confronted him and the fact that his .357-Magnum revolver jammed and he was unable to re-load, authorities said.
Stephan said O'Rourke made statements that he was mad at his former employer AIG and President Barack Obama as he went on his rampage against 230 children.
"Pick on somebody your own size," the prosecutor said of the defendant.
Deputy Public Defender Dan Segura conceded that his client was guilty of the assault charges, but as to attempted murder, he asked the jury to carefully consider whether O'Rourke intended to kill.
Segura said four doctors have found that his client suffers from severe mental illness.
Stephan said O'Rourke had recently been evicted from his apartment and told the manager that "the FBI and the news (media)" will be at the apartment complex "soon."
In her opening statement, Stephan said O'Rourke carried out a planned "terrorist attack," firing into groups of children and wounding the two second-grade girls.
Stephan said O'Rourke jumped a school fence as youngsters played on the playground and ate lunch in the cafeteria. He was carrying the revolver, three speed loaders, a five-gallon gas can, large matches and special ammunition meant to do bodily harm, she said.
O'Rourke's shooting binge was interrupted when a school staff member asked him, "What the hell are you doing?" according to the prosecutor.
O'Rourke put his gun to the woman's stomach and pulled the trigger, but he had run out of bullets, Stephan said.
Three construction workers working behind the school followed the suspect. When one of the trio shouted at O'Rourke to stop, the suspect pointed his gun at him, but another pursuer subdued O'Rourke by striking him with his truck, Stephan said.