7 dead in Santa Monica College shooting, gunman may have had help

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SWAT team: Sheriff’s deputies gather near Santa Monica College. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times /June 7, 2013)

latimes.com | Jun 7, 2013

By Rosanna Xia, Kate Mather and Andrew Blankstein

Seven people — including the gunman — are dead after a shooting rampage that ended at Santa Monica College, police said.

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.

Two people were found dead on Yorkshire Avenue and a home was on fire, authorities said.

Santa Monica shooting: At least six killed, three injured, minutes after President Obama’s motorcade passed by

The gunman then moved west along Pico Boulevard, firing at cars, including a bus and a police vehicle.

One person died at Cloverfield and Pico boulevards; two died at 19th Street and Pico Boulevard. Another woman died at the hospital.

Seabrooks said the gunman may not have acted alone.  A second “person of interest” is in custody.

“We are not convinced 100% that the suspect who was killed operated in solo or a lone capacity,” Seabrooks said.

The suspect fled onto 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.

They have detained a second man, who has not been identified. He is considered a person of interest.

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 the final tap performance when two women ran into their Santa Monica College classroom, next to the campus library.

They just saw a woman get shot in the library, they said.

“When she said that word — shot! — we immediately shut the door, laid down on the floor and shut the lights,” Bell said.

“I was thinking, ‘Oh my god, Columbine High School,” he said. “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 shut 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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