WASHINGTON, June 7, 2013 — Three miles from where President Obama was speaking at a fundraiser, a gunman took the lives of six people in what can only be described as a rampage.
Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks says that the Santa Monica shootings began at 11:55 Pacific Time at a home in the 2000 block of Yorkshire. Neighbors saw a man dressed in black with an assault-style rifle leave the house. Neighbor Jerry Cunningham Rathner reports hearing the gunshots before seeing a man shooting at the residence where two people were found dead.
Rathner says the gunman then pointed the rifle at a woman in a car, demanding that she pull over before signaling a second car to slow down. The gunman then fired shots into both vehicles.
“He fired three to four shots into the car — boom, boom, boom, right at her,” said Cunningham, who went to the woman’s aid and saw she was wounded in the shoulder.
“I can’t believe she didn’t have worse injuries,” Cunningham said.
He said the gunman then abducted the woman in the first car and drove away.
The rampage claimed lives in six different shooting incidents. In addition to the shootings on the Santa Monica College campus, the gunman opened fire on a public bus. Of those shot, one was critically wounded, dying in surgery at the UCLA medical center; several others were also wounded.
The number of fatalities in this shooting are being reported (as of 7:45 p.m.) as six persons plus the shooter, reported to be a 25-30 year old white man, dressed in black, wearing body armor and carrying a long weapon.
Five women were hospitalized following the shooting. Three women were taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center with gunshot wounds. One person died before treatment, one died in surgery for abdominal wounds and a third is in serious condition with a gunshot to the head.
Sent to UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica, were three other women, one with shrapnel-type injuries. The others injuries are not caused by gunfire, and all are reported as being in good condition.
Rona Navales, a staff writer for the Santa Monica College paper, The Corsair, says one fatality is being reported as a student. Students were in class, many taking final exams in this, the last week of the school year.
Jimes Gillespie, 20, told The Associated Press he was in the college’s library studying when he heard gunfire, and he and dozens of other students began to flee the three-story building.
“As I was running down the stairs I saw one of the gunmen,” said Gillespie, who described the shooter as a white man in his 20s, wearing cornrows in his hair and black overalls. He said the man was carrying a shotgun.
Gillespie believes there are two shooters because he heard two kinds of gunfire — a shotgun and a handgun — but only saw one person.
“The shotgun blast was first. It was either him or the partner who shot eight to 10 handgun shots,” Gillespie said. “Then after I saw the gunman I heard more shots and I ran out of the library through the emergency exit.”
Another student, Khwanfa Wilepananon, said he and a friend were on the library’s third floor when they heard a loud bang and a woman’s scream coming from the first floor. As he and a friend fled downstairs, he said they heard two shots.
“It was so scary,” said Wilepananon. “It was so dark and I was scared. We didn’t know what to do.”
Santa Monica police Sgt. Rudy Flores said numerous witnesses called to report that the shooting near the college began with a man on a street corner near the college firing shots at vehicles, including a bus.
California Highway Patrol Officer Vince Ramirez said his agency began receiving 911 calls just minutes before noon.
“We understand one shooter was taken into custody shortly after we arrived,” he said.
The two-year college, with about 34,000 students, was in the midst of final exams Friday. The school was quickly locked down by police.
In the area of Santa Monica College, an exchange of gun fire with campus and city police had a gunman fleeing onto the college campus, where he shot a woman before entering the library, where he shot at library patrons. Officers engaged him in the library and shot and killed him
There is no sense as to what the shooter’s targets were, or whether he was targeting the school. The shooter has been tentatively identified, but his identity has not been released to the press at this time. Police are working to obtain access to his home, where they hope to find information that might explain the shooting.
Authorities were first called to the burning house, where shots were fired. Almost simultaneously they received calls reporting the first carjacking and multiple shootings, which were not known to be related at the time, according to Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks.
When police approached the gunman, he took off towards Santa Monica College.
“There was an exchange of gunfire at that time and the suspect attempted to evade the officer by running off to the college campus,” Seabrooks said.
Once on the college campus, he ran toward the library, shooting the first woman on campus, even as police were pursuing him.
“He continued to shoot at them,” Seabrooks said. “The officers came in and directly engaged the suspect and he was shot and killed on the scene.”
“We are not convinced 100 percent that the suspect who was killed operated in a solo or alone capacity,” Seabrooks said.
Another person, also wearing black with a sweatshirt that read, “Life is a Gamble”, was taken into custody, however no information is available on this person at this time.
Associated Press contributed information and quotes from students Jimes Gillespie, 20, Khwanfa Wilepananon and California Highway Patrol Officer Vince Ramirez
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