5 dead in Santa Monica rampage; gunman acted alone, police say
The Santa Monica Police Department on Friday night reduced the death toll from a rampage on the streets of the city.
A police spokesman said at a press conference that four victims, plus the suspect, were killed. At an earlier press conference, the police chief said six victims had died.
Officials said the discrepancy occurred because of conflicting witness accounts. They added that one of the wounded remains in critical condition.
The police also said they now believe the alleged gunman acted alone and that a man detained earlier today was not involved in the rampage.
The two bodies found in a burning Santa Monica house – the starting point in the rampage – are believed to be the brother and father of the gunman, law enforcement sources told The Times.
He was killed by officers at Santa Monica College. Police don’t have a motive for the shootings. The shootings and fire appear to have stemmed from a family dispute, but the sources said police are still unsure what happened.
Santa Monica College remained closed, and police were converging on an apartment in Mar Vista as part of the investigation.
Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks described a violent shooting rampage that appears to have begun in the 2000 block of Yorkshire Avenue just before noon.
The gunman then moved west along Pico Boulevard, firing at cars and other targets.
One person died at Cloverfield and Pico boulevards; two died at 19th Street and Pico Boulevard. Another woman died at a hospital.
The gunman fled to Santa Monica College, where he was pursued by police. He shot a woman on campus and ran into the library, where he continued to fire rounds from an assault rifle.
Authorities shot and killed the gunman on campus. He has not yet been identified, but police described him as being 25 to 30 years old.
Santa Monica College and all schools in the city were placed on lockdown.
The shooting rampage sent Santa Monica into chaos -- just as President Obama was attending a fundraiser a few miles away.
Many college students were on campus studying -- or taking finals.
Stephen Bell and his classmates were preparing for their final tap dance performance when two women ran into their classroom next to the campus library.
They said they’d just seen a woman getting shot in the library.
“When she said that word -- shot! -- we immediately shut the door, lay down on the floor and shut the lights,” Bell said. “I was thinking, ‘Oh my god, Columbine High School. First thing that crossed my mind.”
Joey Letteri, the tap instructor, was running a few minutes late and was walking to class from his office upstairs. When he got to class, the door was closed and the lights were off.
“I thought it was a surprise and that the class got a cake for me or something,” he said, shaking his head at the innocent thought that had crossed his mind at the time.
Letteri led the class through a meditation and told them to stay quiet. They tried to calm the two female students down; one couldn’t stop throwing up, Letteri said, and the other was crying and shaking.
Finally, a SWAT team arrived. Letteri told them to slide their badges under the door. Each person in the classroom had to come out individually with their hands up, he said, and they were searched before they were all escorted off campus. Officers took the two witnesses from the library aside.
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