Calif. gunman may have been targeting neighbor’s 7-year-old son

The gunman who tore through his small Northern California community may have been targeting the 7-year-old son of a neighbor he’d been fighting with when he opened fire on the rural town’s elementary school.

Johnny Phommathep, who lives in a home about 200 feet away from Kevin Janson Neal, told the Sacramento Bee he watched a feud between the shooter and his immediate neighbor, Danny Elliot, escalate into violence.

Elliot and his mother, Diana Steel, were among the first victims in Neal’s violent spree — he shot them both before heading to Rancho Tehama Elementary School, where he loosed several more rounds of gunfire.

Phommathep suspects the 44-year-old killer went to school to specifically target Elliot’s 7-year-old son, Gage.

RELATED: Northern California, Rancho Tehama shooting

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Northern California, Rancho Tehama shooting
A woman wearing a white protective suit is seen on the Rancho Tehama Elementary school grounds after a shooting on November 14, 2017, in Rancho Tehama, California Four people were killed and nearly a dozen were wounded, including several children, when a gunman went on a rampage at multiple locations, including a school in rural northern California. / AFP PHOTO / Elijah Nouvelage (Photo credit should read ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
A Tehama County Coroner's van enters the Rancho Tehama Elementary school grounds after a shooting on November 14, 2017, in Rancho Tehama, California Four people were killed and nearly a dozen were wounded, including several children, when a gunman went on a rampage at multiple locations, including a school in rural northern California. / AFP PHOTO / Elijah Nouvelage (Photo credit should read ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
People in white protective suits are seen on the Rancho Tehama Elementary school grounds after a shooting on November 14, 2017, in Rancho Tehama, California Four people were killed and nearly a dozen were wounded, including several children, when a gunman went on a rampage at multiple locations, including a school in rural northern California. / AFP PHOTO / Elijah Nouvelage (Photo credit should read ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
A law enforcement officer is seen at one of many crime scenes after a shooting on November 14, 2017, in Rancho Tehama, California Four people were killed and nearly a dozen were wounded, including several children, when a gunman went on a rampage at multiple locations, including a school in rural northern California. / AFP PHOTO / Elijah Nouvelage (Photo credit should read ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
Law enforcement officers stand near one of many crime scenes after a shooting on November 14, 2017, in Rancho Tehama, California Four people were killed and nearly a dozen were wounded, including several children, when a gunman went on a rampage at multiple locations, including a school in rural northern California. / AFP PHOTO / Elijah Nouvelage (Photo credit should read ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
A Highway Patrol officer speaks to a woman while blocking off a road to traffic after a shooting on November 14, 2017, in Rancho Tehama, California Four people were killed and nearly a dozen were wounded, including several children, when a gunman went on a rampage at multiple locations, including a school in rural northern California. / AFP PHOTO / Elijah Nouvelage (Photo credit should read ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
A crime scene photographer takes photos of a Sheriff's vehicle that was involved in a shooting on November 14, 2017, in Rancho Tehama, California Four people were killed and nearly a dozen were wounded, including several children, when a gunman went on a rampage at multiple locations, including a school in rural northern California. / AFP PHOTO / Elijah Nouvelage (Photo credit should read ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
Law enforcement officers and investigators converse near a police vehicle that was involved in a shooting on November 14, 2017, in Rancho Tehama, California Four people were killed and nearly a dozen were wounded, including several children, when a gunman went on a rampage at multiple locations, including a school in rural northern California. / AFP PHOTO / Elijah Nouvelage (Photo credit should read ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
An FBI agent is seen outside Rancho Tehama Elementary School after a shooting in the morning on November 14, 2017, in Rancho Tehama, California Four people were killed and nearly a dozen were wounded, including several children, when a gunman went on a rampage at multiple locations, including a school in rural northern California. / AFP PHOTO / Elijah Nouvelage (Photo credit should read ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
Law enforcement officers and a crime scene photographer examine a police vehicle that was involved in a shooting in the morning on November 14, 2017, in Rancho Tehama, California Four people were killed and nearly a dozen were wounded, including several children, when a gunman went on a rampage at multiple locations, including a school in rural northern California. / AFP PHOTO / Elijah Nouvelage (Photo credit should read ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
FBI agents are seen behind yellow crime scene tape outside Rancho Tehama Elementary School after a shooting in the morning on November 14, 2017, in Rancho Tehama, California Four people were killed and nearly a dozen were wounded, including several children, when a gunman went on a rampage at multiple locations, including a school in rural northern California. / AFP PHOTO / Elijah Nouvelage (Photo credit should read ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
FBI agents are seen behind yellow crime scene tape outside Rancho Tehama Elementary School after a shooting in the morning on November 14, 2017, in Rancho Tehama, California Four people were killed and nearly a dozen were wounded, including several children, when a gunman went on a rampage at multiple locations, including a school in rural northern California. / AFP PHOTO / Elijah Nouvelage (Photo credit should read ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
Scene from Rancho Tehama Elementary School. https://t.co/ZPuCuxoydg
Resident Casey Burnett said gunman was driving around and shooting randomly from his car. https://t.co/eZUdcaj1f0
Parents are in distress stuck behind road block not knowing the status of their kids at school in Rancho Tehama whe… https://t.co/PknnM6POHk
Shots fired Rancho Tehama, elementary school on lockdown, scanner reports of one dead, one moderate to major injuries.
DEVELOPING: Multiple people dead following shooting at Elementary School in Rancho Tehama, California
Rancho Tehama man talks about incident. https://t.co/uy1l06fw1K
Road into Rancho Tehama closed at turnoff at Paskenta Rd. Law enforcement says three dead, including suspect. At least 5 scenes.
The first mass shooting I remember was the Sandy Hook shooting. Never ever did I think there’d be a shooting in my… https://t.co/NFrvQkJtN9
BREAKING: Confirmed children "as young as 6" are among those that have been shot at Rancho Tehama Elementary School… https://t.co/jVqewKIpgt
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Multiple sources told the Bee that Neal back in January stabbed Steele with a steak knife while she and her daughter-in-law were leaving their house.

“Kevin decided to stab Danny’s mother and ever since there has been a blood feud,” Phommathep said. “He just went crazy from there.”

He added he’d heard Neal make a “direct threat of killing Gage” in the days before the deadly shooting.

Gage’s maternal grandmother, Alma Feitelberg, told CNN Neal used to shoot at Elliot’s house.

“He did at least three times a day,” Gage added.

Assistant Sheriff Phil Jonston told reporters earlier this week there was a history of domestic violence calls to Neal’s home, and a slew of complaints about him firing weapons in the area.

Gage huddled with his classmates when his school was put on lockdown Tuesday and listened to gunman fire his weapon outside.

Neal sprayed the building with bullets, shooting out windows and doors, but was unable to get inside, thanks to the lockdown. Several were injured, but Gage survived the incident along with his classmates and teachers.

The gunman was fatally shot by authorities, but not before he managed to kill five people — including his wife — and injuring dozens more.

When FBI later told Gage his father had been killed, the 7-year-old instantly responded: “I know who it is. It’s my neighbor.”

“Gage knew immediately. He did say, ‘He came to the school to get me,’ and he’s probably right,” said Feitelberg, who is now taking care of her grandson.

Tehama County district attorney Gregg Cohen confirmed investigators suspect Neal intentionally targeted the school, though he would not say whether he was seeking out Gage or someone else.

“We had information that he was at least focused on the school for some reason, whether it was someone that worked there or Gage,” Cohen told the newspaper. “He did not go to the school as a random act.”

Neal, who has a documented history of mental illness, moved to Rancho Tehama Reserve from North Carolina in an effort to control his severe bouts of paranoia — but to no avail, his family said.

He’d often phone his mother, ranting about his neighbors, who he suspected were running a meth lab out of their home.

A day before the shooting Neal told her he’d done “everything I could do and I am fighting against everyone who lives in this area.”

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