Photo of Brendan Liam O'Rourke by Nick Morris
  • Photo of Brendan Liam O'Rourke by Nick Morris
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Construction worker Mario Contreras broke his hand on October 8, 2010, the day a gunman arrived at Kelly Elementary School in Carlsbad.

“I broke it when I punched him,” testified 42-year-old Contreras at the Vista Courthouse on February 27. Contreras said he broke multiple bones in his left hand when he punched Brendan Liam O’Rourke, who allegedly fired a handgun at children ranging in age from seven to nine. O’Rourke allegedly emptied his six-shot revolver as the children ran away. Two seven-year-old girls were each shot in one arm.

Contreras was one of three construction workers working on the school grounds who pursued and tackled O’Rourke after he allegedly ran toward his car.

“He trying to fight, you know, that why I start punching,” said Contreras. Halfway through his testimony, a Spanish-speaking interpreter assisted Contreras to complete his evidence. “I punch in the face.”

Contreras identified O’Rourke, 42, as the shooter.

In an interview in the courthouse hallway after his testimony, Contreras said he struck O’Rourke “a lot,” but would not guess a number. “He wasn’t trying to give up.”

Contreras said his hand became swollen immediately, but he showed up for work the following Monday anyway. After some hours using a jackhammer, he said, “It hurt. That’s why I went to the hospital.” Contreras said he drove himself to hospital, had his hand x-rayed, and had surgery about three weeks later.

O’Rourke has been charged with 14 felonies, including multiple attempted murders and assaults with a firearm. He is pleading not guilty by reason of insanity through his public defender. Testimony began on February 27.

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