Police: As many as 6 dead in S. California shootings; gunman also dead
SANTA MONICA, California (CNN) — Six people were killed in a shooting rampage in Santa Monica, California, that ended Friday with the gunman clad in tactical gear dead in the library of a college and a “person of interest” in custody, authorities said.
“We are not convinced 100 percent that the suspect who was killed operated in a solo or alone capacity,” Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks told reporters.
The comments came as police and firefighters searched the sprawling campus of Santa Monica College for other possible victims or shooters.
The gunman has not been identified by authorities, Seabrooks said. She described him as a white male between the age of 25 and 35, clad in black and wearing what appeared to be a ballistic vest.
At least three people were wounded in the shootings, which authorities believe began with the sound of gunshots shortly before noon in a residential neighborhood near the college.
The gunman carjacked a woman, said Jerry Cunningham, who looked out her window after hearing shots fired.
She saw a gunman, and a neighboring house on fire.
He then waved another car by, she said. That driver, a woman, hesitated just a moment, and the gunman “fired three shots directly into her and the car,” Cunningham said. The motorist was wounded, police said.
Inside the house, firefighters found the bodies of at least two people, Seabrooks said.
Of those killed during the rampage, all but two victims were believed to have been randomly targeted, she said.
It was not immediately clear whether a woman who died from wounds at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center was counted among the six deaths. Another woman remains in critical condition, said Dr. Marshall Morgan, the chief of emergency medicine at the medical center.
Within minutes of the carjacking, authorities say the gunman targeted a bus in Santa Monica. Two passengers were injured, Suja Lowenthal, a Big Blue Bus spokeswoman, told CNN.
A short distance later, the gunman opened fire on cars directly adjacent to the college.
“There was an exchange of gunfire at the time, and the suspect tried to evade,” Seabrooks said.
The gunman ran on to the campus, where he again exchanged gunfire with police. He ran away and wounded a woman before entering the library, authorities said.
An eyewitness on campus, Jason Garrett, told CNN the shooter was dressed all in black and appeared to be wearing a tactical vest and carrying a rifle.
A female witness — who was shaken up by the ordeal and asked not to be identified — said she heard a noise, realized it was a gunshot, then took off running.
Then, in a hallway, she saw a dark-haired man whom she initially mistook for a police officer but later realized was the shooter. The man — who she said was wearing black combat boots and what appeared to be a bullet-proof vest — was quiet and walking casually.
“(He had) a big shotgun,” the woman said.
She and a colleague eventually realized something wasn’t right and ran in the opposite direction. “Multiple” gunshots rang out at one point, in an exchange of gunfire the woman described as like a war zone.
Priscilla Morales, who was in the library, told CNN she heard three gunshots.
She also said she heard police tell the gunman to “drop it.”
“I was so scared and thought literally I was going to die,” she said.
President Barack Obama was in Santa Monica for a fundraiser just a 10-minute drive from the campus, CNN affiliate KCAL/KCBS reported.
CNN’s Miguel Marquez reported from Santa Monica and Chelsea J. Carter and Phil Gast reported and wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Cheri Mossburg and Traci Tamura contributed to this report.