5 Dead, Including Suspect, in Santa Monica Shooting

[Update: A fifth victim has died, increasing the total number dead to six. More in this updated story.]

Four people were killed today in a rolling wave of violence that began with a shooting and fire in a Santa Monica neighborhood, then continued with a gunman firing randomly at people and vehicles on Pico Boulevard and then on the campus of Santa Monica College, where the suspect was killed by police. (An earlier version of this story said seven people died. Police later corrected the number to five).

The violent events unfolded around midday about three miles south of a political fundraiser attended by President Barack Obama.

According to police, the crime spree began around 11:50 a.m. with reports of shots fired and a house ablaze near Yorkshire and Kansas avenues. Fire crews doused the fire and then found "multiple" victims inside the home, according to Santa Monica Fire Department Chief Scott Ferguson.

Two people were found dead in the home, and may be related to the suspect, said Sgt. Richard Lewis of the Santa Monica Police Department.

According to witnesses, the gunman, clad in black and carrying a semiautomatic weapon, stood on Yorkshire Avenue and shot at a woman who was driving by.

"He waved her to go through and she kind of slowed down, and when she hesitated and slowed down, he just fired three or four shots point blank into her car," resident Jerri Cunningham told ABC7.

The man apparently carjacked another vehicle and ended up at Cloverfield and Pico boulevards, where he began firing randomly at people and vehicles, including a Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, which wound up about mile north riddled with bullets.

Seabrooks said the gunman continued firing wildly, first near Cloverfield and Pico, where one person was killed, and then near 19th and Pearl streets before scrambling onto the Santa Monica College campus, where a barrage of gunfire erupted between the suspect and police.

The gunman fatally shot one female in front of the campus library, then fled inside, where he continued firing and was shot and killed by police, Seabrooks said.

Lewis said there were five to seven shooting locations, but investigations were continuing at multiple scenes.

Three female shooting victims -- including the one shot in front of the campus library -- were taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Two of those patients were in critical condition and one was initially reported in serious condition before her status was upgraded to fair, according to UCLA health officials.

One of the critical patients -- who was shot in the stomach -- was dead by mid-afternoon. The other, who was shot in the head, remained in critical condition in an intensive care unit after surgery, officials said.

Three other victims, also female, were taken to UCLA Medical Center Santa Monica in good condition. They were treated for minor injuries and released.

Campus worker Joe Orcutt told reporters said the suspect fired a shot at him.

"He fired two (shots) in the parking lot area and then when I turned around he shot at me, I was the third," Orcutt said. "And I heard probably another three, four individual shots until maybe three or four minutes later, and just a barrage of fire, which I'm assuming was the police firing at the library."

One male taken into custody was interviewed by police and released. Lewis said the male had legitimate business on the campus and was not a suspect in the investigation -- the shooting suspect had acted alone.

SMC and surrounding schools were placed on lockdown while police combed through the campus to ensure there were no other suspects at large. Another person, described by Seabrooks as a person of interest, was taken into custody.

SMC students were taking final exams, but in the wake of the shooting, all the exams for the balance of the day were canceled.

One student told KCAL9 the suspect was waving an assault weapon and looked to be prepared for combat.

"He had a helmet on, like the Army wears," the witness said. "... He had a bulletproof vest with a jacket over it. He had jeans ... and Army boots on."

The body of the gunman was removed from the library and could be seen on aerial television photos on the ground near the southern end of campus.

Neighboring Will Rogers Elementary School and John Adams Middle School were also locked down during the investigation, as was Santa Monica High School.

Graduation ceremonies at Santa Monica High School were held as scheduled tonight.

All activities on the main campus were canceled for the weekend with normal campus activities expected to resume Monday, according to Santa Monica College officials. All on-campus activities will be rescheduled, and students were asked to wait for confirmation from instructors regarding final exam schedules.

Some SMC students and campus workers -- with their hands in the air -- were escorted off campus by police, and some of them were taken past the gunman's body.

Counseling services will be available for students and employees at SMC's Bundy campus on the second floor from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and on the main campus from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday.

The college has also set up a 24-hour support hotline at (866) 315-7370 for students and employees.

The shooting occurred about three miles from the scene of a Democratic National Committee fundraiser attended by Obama in northern Santa Monica. The shooting did not impact the actual event, according to the U.S. Secret Service, but did alter Obama's route back to Los Angeles International Airport.

Obama was originally expected to be driven back to Santa Monica Airport for a helicopter flight to LAX. Instead, he was driven in a motorcade directly from the fundraiser to LAX.

An SMC student told ABC7 he heard the gunfire.

"I was near the bookstore when I heard 15 or 20 more shots," he said. "I stopped and went into the Theater Arts building. ... I'm extremely shaken."

Another student said she heard gunshots while she was heading to the library to study for her final exams, which were being administered on the campus this week.

"I ran to my car as quick as I could," she told Channel 7. "I didn't know what to do."

Officials encouraged people with type-O negative, type-O positive and type AB blood to donate. The UCLA Blood & Platelet Center located at 1045 Gayley Ave. will be open tomorrow, and appointments can be made by calling (310) 825-0888, ext. 2.

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City News Service is an independent wire service that serves Los Angeles area news outlets. Posts identifying them in a byline means KCET-TV has used their story, either in full or close to full.
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