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An undated booking photo of Kevin Neal of Rancho Tehama, California, involved in a shooting spree at multiple sites in rural northern California, provided November 15, 2017. Tehama County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY(reuters_tickers)
By Alex Dobuzinskis
(Reuters) - The death toll in a shooting spree in rural Northern California rose to five after police discovered the body of the gunman's wife hidden in the couple's house, an assistant sheriff said on Wednesday.
The body of the wife of the gunman, Kevin Neal, was discovered late on Tuesday, hidden under a hole in the floor, Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said.
Authorities believe Neal, 44, killed his wife on Monday, the day before he went on a rampage at multiple sites around the small community of Rancho Tehama, about 120 miles (193 km) north of Sacramento, killing four other people. Neal also opened fire at an elementary school before he was slain by police.
Johnston said many more people might have been killed if staff at the Rancho Tehama School had not locked Neal out.
"I really, truly believe that we would have had a horrific bloodbath in that school if that school hadn't taken the action when they did," Johnston told a news conference.
School officials locked the doors when they heard gunfire in the distance. Neal, frustrated at not being able to enter the school, drove off and was shot to death on the road by police, Johnston said.
Neal was armed with two rifles he illegally manufactured and two handguns registered to someone else, Johnston said. He was prohibited from having firearms under a court-issued restraining order, the assistant sheriff said.
Authorities did not discover that Neal's wife had been killed until Tuesday, when Neal shot his neighbours and drove around Rancho Tehama, killing four adults during a 25-minute shooting spree, Johnston said.
Neal shot one child on Tuesday at Rancho Tehama School, where he fired so many rounds that people were injured by showers of glass, Johnston said. The child survived.
Authorities did not provide a possible motive for the rampage and did not identify those killed, citing the need to notify relatives.
On Wednesday, an adult injured in the shooting was in critical condition at Enloe Medical Center in Chico, and a child and three other adults were in stable condition at other hospitals, Johnston said.
Neal had been arrested in January and charged with assault with a deadly weapon, but was released on bail of $160,000 (£121,511.93), Tehama County District Attorney Gregg Cohen said at the news conference.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Leslie Adler)