A sniper firing on an elementary-school yard killed a 10-year-old girl and injured at least 13 other people today before killing himself, police said.
The man was identified as Tyrone Mitchell, 28. Police said he had a history of "irrational behavior" and drug use.
Ronnie Love, a friend of the suspect, said Mitchell's parents, older sister and a cousin died in the 1978 mass suicide-murder of more than 900 persons at Jonestown, Guyana, led by cult leader Jim Jones.
Love described Mitchell, a high school track star, as "a real quiet man." He said Mitchell had attended the 49th Street School in southeast Los Angeles where the shooting occurred.
Three of the injured, including an adult bystander and a boy hit while in his classroom, were in critical condition tonight. They were undergoing surgery at Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital.
Five other victims, including a playground supervisor, were treated at other hospitals and were reported in good condition. The other wounded were treated at the scene.
The dead girl was identified as Shala Eubanks.
The shooting began about 2:15 p.m. (PST) as the children were being dismissed for the day.
David Walker, a teacher, told a television reporter that it was "the most horrifying experience of my life." He said he heard what he thought was "the clattering of sticks," then saw a child lying on the playground and others standing around.
A school employe told wire service reporters that she "saw dozens of kids down on the ground, but most of them weren't hurt, they were just trying to hide."
Bessie McClain, who lives across the street from the school, said, "The kids were running out of the school screaming and hollering . . . . The teachers were trying to get the kids out of the yard . . . . The shooting was going on all the time. It just kept coming . . . . "
Police said Mitchell, who barricaded himself in a two-story house where he lived with his fiance and his uncle, had a high-powered rifle and a shotgun. Mitchell remained in the house for about four hours after the shootings; special team officers lobbed tear gas into the structure and broke in about dusk; they found Mitchell dead on the second floor.
"He took his own life," police spokesman Sergio Cruz said.
Mary Lou Hill, 29, Mitchell's fiance, told United Press International that she had lived with him for seven years and that they had been preparing to move to Guyana to join his family when the mass suicide-murder occurred in November, 1978, but were delayed by a passport problem.
"He had a nervous breakdown after Jonestown," she said of Mitchell.
Love said Mitchell was "wild all his life . . . . He had a short fuse. He could go off at any time."