Police: Gunman killed 4 in Santa Monica shootings
Police officers stand next to a body near an entrance to Santa Monica College, Friday, June 7, 2013, in Santa Monica, Calif., following a shooting incident in the area. Two people were found dead in a burned home near the college, where someone sprayed a street corner with gunfire, authorities said. (AP Photo/Tami Abdollah)
An investigator checks a car damaged by a bullet at the intersection of Kansas and Yorkshire about a mile northeast of Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, Calif. on Friday, June 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
A car with its windows broken stands near where shots were fired near Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, Calif., Friday, June 7, 2013. Two people were found dead in a burned home near the college campus, where someone sprayed a street corner with gunfire, wounding at least three people, authorities said.(AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
Los Angeles Police officers are shown detaining a suspect near a shooting at Santa Monica College Friday June 7, 2013 in Santa Monica, Calif. A gunman opened fire near Santa Monica College, police said, and several people are reported wounded. Witnesses say a man on a street corner fired shots at vehicles, including a bus. Santa Monica police Sgt. Rudy Flores says the shooter is believed to be among the wounded. (AP Photo/Tami Abdollah)
Investigators look at a Santa Monica City Bus that was shot at in Santa Monica, Calif. Friday, June 7, 2013. Someone fired gunshots near the campus of Santa Monica College shortly before noon Friday, police said, and several people were reported to be wounded. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
A man with a semi-automatic rifle killed at least four people and wounded several others yesterday as he carried out a deadly rampage across several blocks of a normally idyllic beachfront city. The police shot him dead in the Santa Monica College Library.
The violence began when the gunman, dressed in all black and wearing what appeared to be a ballistic jacket, opened fire on a house where two bodies were found, Santa Monica police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said.
Two officials said last night that the killings began as a domestic violence incident and the victims in the home were the gunman’s father and brother. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the case.
As the house burst into flames, the man wounded a woman in a car before moving toward the campus, spraying bullets as he went. The police said he opened fire on a city bus, a police car and other vehicles, as well as bystanders and pedestrians.
The driver of an SUV leaving a campus parking lot was killed and two passengers were wounded as the car crashed through a block wall.
From there, the gunman entered the campus, fatally wounding a woman as he made his way toward the college’s library, where students were studying for final exams.
“We saw a woman get shot in the head,” said administrative assistant Trena Johnson, who looked out the window of the dean’s office, where she works, when she heard gunfire. “I haven’t been able to stop shaking,” she said.
Inside the library, students reported hearing gunfire and screams.
“I was totally scared to death and I can’t believe it happened so fast,” said Vincent Zhang, a 20-year-old economics major who said he heard a woman pleading, “No, no. Please, no.”
The gunman continued to shoot at people in the library, Seabrooks said, but apparently didn’t hit anybody there as dozens ran for the exits.
“The officers came in and directly engaged the suspect and he was shot and killed on the scene,” she said.
Just 3 miles away, President Obama was attending a fundraising luncheon. Secret Service spokesman Max Milien said the agency was aware of the shooting, which began just before noon, but it had no impact on the president’s event.
After the gunman was killed, police officers wearing helmets and armed with shotguns and rifles searched the campus for a possible second shooter. A man dressed entirely in black, the words “Life is a Gamble” on the back of his sweatshirt, was seen being led away in handcuffs.
Sgt. Richard Lewis, a Santa Monica police spokesman, said at a news conference last night that the man was questioned and released, and he is not a suspect.
The identities of those who were killed were not immediately released.
The police had said earlier that seven people were killed, including the gunman, but they revised the death toll to a total of five at a news conference late yesterday. The police said there initially were conflicting descriptions of some victims and they were counted twice.
Jerry Cunningham Rathner, who lives near the house that caught fire, said she heard gunshots and came out onto her porch to see a man shooting at the residence.
The gunman, dressed in black and wearing an ammunition belt, pointed a rifle at a woman in a car and told her to pull over, Cunningham Rathner said. He then signaled to a second car, also driven by a woman, to slow down and began firing into the vehicle.