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Judge Orders Trial for Brendan O'Rourke

Victims of Kelly Elementary School shooting testified at Brendan O'Rourke's preliminary hearing.

Updated:  After a two-day preliminary hearing, Vista Judge K. Michael Kirkman ruled that enough evidence had been presented for 41-year-old Brendan Liam O'Rourke to stand trial April 26 on seven counts each of attempted murder and assault. A readiness conference was set for April 5. O'Rourke has pleaded not guilty. He faces 103 years to life in prison if convicted.

O'Rourke is the suspected gunman of a shooting at  on Oct. 8, 2010, that injured to second grade girls. The girls, now 8 and 7 years old, were shot in the arm. They both bravely took the witness stand Monday.

The first girl, who took the stand with her dad sitting behind her, a teddy bear and a therapy dog provided by Rady Children's Hospital, described being shot in the right arm. "It felt like it wasn't really there. It felt squiggly," she said. The bullet came through the back of her arm just under the elbow and exited on the inside of her forearm. 

The second girl, who also took the stand with her dad behind her and the therapy dog, described the feeling of being shot in the left arm. "At first it started to vibrate, then it started to hurt," she remembered. The bullet entered her arm just above the elbow.

Dr. Nirav Pandya, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Rady Children's Hospital, testified about the injuries. He said the wounds could have been much worse or even fatal. "Anytime a bullet goes in near the elbow region, there's a risk of losing the arm or dying due to excessive bleeding." He said the second girl suffered from temporary nerve damage and lost feeling in two of her fingers. Fortunately, the decreased sensitivity lasted only a short while.

O'Rourke sat in a green jumpsuit with his head down most of the hearing. The second girl looked over at him a few times when asked about the gunman, but O'Rourke never looked up. O'Rourke also wore glasses, which he did not wear during his first court appearance in . 

At O'Rourke's arraignment last year, Deputy District Attorney Summer Stephan told a judge that the defendant jumped a fence at Kelly Elementary and went onto a playground Oct. 8 during recess time with a 0.357 Ruger six-shot revolver, a speed re-loader, extra ammunition, a propane tank, gas can and matches.

During Monday's hearing, the first girl said she remembered seeing the gunman with a gun in one hand and a silver "metal bucket" in the other. 

It's been five months since the shooting at Kelly Elementary. The first girl is now back to participating in martial arts and reassured the judge several times during the testimony saying, "I'm OK." The judge thanked the girls for being "so smart and brave." The second girl left the stand with a smile on her face. 

During Tuesday's preliminary hearing, a construction worker who pursued O'Rourke and ultimately helped capture him testified that the gunman appeared "crazy" and had a "disconnected" look on his face during the rampage. Carlos Partida, one of three construction workers who had a hand in stopping the gunman, said O'Rourke was saying something about President Barack Obama as he was shooting.

CNS contributed to this report

Christopher Lee March 08, 2011 at 12:23 AM
It would only be fitting that they put this guy in a soundproof room and let the fathers of these children in alone with him for 10 minutes. What a coward. Only a coward would take out his anger and frustration out on little children.
Ray Pearson March 08, 2011 at 01:23 AM
Brave young girls and hats off to all the other Kelly children, parents and staff.

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