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Santa Monica shootings: Toll lowered, 'person of interest' released

ShootingsCrime, Law and Justice

Authorities late Friday lowered the number of people killed earlier in the day in a shooting rampage in Santa Monica to four.

The gunman was killed by law enforcement officers in the library at Santa Monica College.

Earlier reports had placed the number of those who died at seven, including the suspect.

Also late Friday, authorities said a second "person of interest" who had been taken into custody and questioned has been released.

The latest developments emerged in a news conference by police and fire officials near one of the crime scenes adjacent to the campus.

Police also confirmed that, in the hours after the shooting rampage, officers converged on an address near the intersection of Centinela Avenue and Palms Boulevard. No additional victims were found, but there may be evidence tied to the shooter, said Sgt. Richard Lewis of the Santa Monica Police Department.

The alleged gunman has not been identified, but he is thought to be between 25 and 30 years old. He was dressed in black and his body remains at the scene.

There were also non-fatal injuries: One victim remains in critical condition; a second is in serious but stable condition. Three other victims have less serious injuries, according to Lewis.

The incident apparently began with the death of two people whose bodies were found at a burning Santa Monica house. A fire official said Friday night that the circumstances of the fire are suspicious but would go no further pending additional investigation.

Those two victims are believed to be the brother and father of the suspected gunman, law enforcement sources told The Times.

At the Friday evening news conference, authorities would not confirm any relationship between the shooter and those two victims. The other victims appeared to be random passersby.

The first 911 call to authorities came at 11:52 a.m. In short order the shooter hijacked a car, holding the driver at gunpoint, and fired from the vehicle before leaving the vehicle to run onto campus.

Authorities said that from start to finish, the whole harrowing incident lasted about 10 minutes.

"It’s a horrific event everybody wishes never happened,” Lewis said. "We had a lot of shootings in a lot of areas in a short amount of time."

Police don’t yet have a motive for the shootings. The shooting and fire appear to have stemmed from some type of family dispute, but sources said police remain unsure what happened.

 

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Twitter: @howardblume | howard.blume@latimes.com

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