Trial begins in Carlsbad Elementary shooting

VISTA — The trial of 42-year-old Brendan Liam O’Rourke, a former Oceanside electrician accused of a school shooting at Carlsbad elementary in October 2010, injuring two students, began with four children taking the witness stand Monday.He is charged with seven counts of premeditated attempted murder and seven counts of assault with a firearm, and faces 103 years to life in prison, if convicted.

O’Rourke pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity at a hearing last June.

“The defendant, Brendan O’Rourke, carried out the planned terrorist attack at Kelly Elementary School and the targets were 6, 7, and 8-year-old kids,” said Summer Stephan, San Diego County deputy district attorney in her opening statements to the jury.

She said he had carried a .357 six-shot revolver, a gas can and a speed-loader with extra ammunition onto the school grounds.

Detectives also found he had a 16-gallon propane tank in his parked car, and long matches, that when combined with the gasoline have the makings of a powerful homemade bomb.

Stephan said that the defendant calculated the time to enter the school, and did so during lunch when approximately 230 children were in a concentrated area.

He was arrested after being tackled and held by construction workers working at the school during the shooting.

Two girls, ages 6 and 7 at the time, suffered through-and-through gunshot wounds to their arms.

Both girls were the only two physically wounded victims, and both have since recovered; but the scars remain. While on the stand, one of the girls pulled up her sleeve to show the judge the scar left from the shooting.

The youngest victim testified next, fidgeting with the tag of a small stuffed animal in her hands, her eyes darted back-and-forth across the room.

“I got shot,” she said in a quiet voice.

Two boys, now ages 9 and 10, also testified. Each described the sounds of the gunfire as sounding like “fireworks.”

“I thought I heard fireworks but it was actually a gun,” said Tommy, a blonde haired boy who wore glasses. “It was like Legoland.”

If jurors find O’Rourke guilty of the charges, they then must decide if he was sane or not at the time of the shootings.

Defense attorney Dan Segura said if his client is found insane then he will spend his time sentenced to a mental hospital.

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