Shooting at Santa Monica College; Suspect, Five Victims Dead, Police Say

Shooting at Santa Monica College; Suspect, Five Victims Dead, Police Say
Highway Patrol Images / Flickr

See the end of the post for latest updates, including a revised number of dead. Headline has changed. First posted at 12:20 p.m.

We're checking out reports of a shooting at or near Santa Monica College this afternoon.

A college spokeswoman confirmed that there was an incident on campus but she did not have details. A source at KCRW (89.9 FM) says the on-campus station was on lockdown.

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We'll bring you more info as it becomes available.

[Update at 12:44 p.m.]: The California Highway Patrol, which took the first reports on the incident because it handles all cellphone 911 calls, got the first call at 11:55 p.m. and then received multiple reports of a man "fully armed" with a gun on the street taking shots at traffic, Officer Kerri Rivas tells the Weekly.

Those first reports put a shooter at 26th Street and Pico Boulevard, she said.

The agency also fielded reports that a suspect shot at a bus and that people onboard might have been injured, Rivas said.

The CHP then fielded calls of shots fired near or inside the school library, she said.

Pico Boulevard is closed near campus, Rivas said. A multi-agency command post as been set up near 18th Street and Pico, she said.

Shooting at Santa Monica College; Suspect, Five Victims Dead, Police Say

[Added at 12:51 p.m.]: The campus sent this email alert to students, faculty and staff at 12:32 p.m:

There have been reports of a shooter on the main SMC campus. The college is on lock-down. This means that if you are on campus, stay out of open spaces, stay in doors, lock all doors and do not open the doors until you receive an all clear from college officials.

If you are off campus, do not come to campus.

[Update at 1:28 p.m.]: UCLA spokesman Mark Wheeler says three shooting victims were taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

Two were said to be in critical condition; one was serious, he said.

A witness, meanwhile, told KNX 1070 Newsradio that a man jumped out of a car with "a big black gun" and started shooting, firing perhaps as many as 10 rounds. "He just started blasting rounds," the man said.

[Added at 1:45 p.m.]: UCLA spokesman Ted Braun says one additional victim was taken to UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica and was in good condition.

[Update at 1:51 p.m.]: The CHP's Rivas says, "We do have one shooter in custody."

However, she said, "There's still the possibility of a second shooter."

Out of an abundance of caution, at 1:29 p.m. police began "clearing" the entire campus, going from building to building and room to room to ensure that there are no other shooting suspects around, Rivas said.

[Added at 2:02 p.m.]: The American Red Cross is sending a "crisis response team" to the command post near Santa Monica College, communications director Monica Diaz told us.

The team will include mental health counselors for witnesses as well as folks who will hand out water and snacks to police who authorities, she says, "because they're going to be there for a while."

[Update at 2:13 p.m.]: Shako Liu, who's an intern at KCRW, the SMC-based public radio station, says she saw what appeared to be a dead body on campus.

"I saw someone lying on the ground in blood, not moving, in black, a little chubby," she told us.

The man was surrounded by police, Liu said.

She said the campus was still on lockdown and that police came to KCRW to interview potential witnesses.

[Added at 2:18 p.m.]: There are reports that a house fire and carjacking are related to the attack: A house that burned nearby reportedly had at least one body, possibly two, inside. Video of the fire was posted on YouTube.

Witnesses told KCAL9 that the suspect was wearing SWAT-type tactical clothing and carried a semiautomatic weapon.

[Added at 2:22 p.m.]: The shooting has altered President Obama's route back to LAX following a fundraiser today in Santa Monica about three miles north of the shootings.

Instead of getting on a helicopter at Santa Monica Airport the president will travel via motorcade back to LAX, a White House press secretary told City News Service.

[Added at 2:34 p.m.]: Another eyewitness who had been holed up at KCRW told us she saw a body, likely the same one, on the ground nearby.

[Added at 2:53 p.m.]: That witness says folks nearby saw a man with a gun, dressed in black, walking in a hall near KCRW. They thought he was a cop at first, she said. Some people said that it appears to be the same person who was down nearby, according to the witness.

[Added at 3:24 p.m.] We talked to KCRW's Membership Drive Coordinator, Beth Topping, who told us she saw the gunman -- and that he may well be dead.

Topping tells us she was in her office at KCRW, which is on the Santa Monica College campus, when she heard gunshots. She opened her door to see a man walking down the hallway. He looked like a cop at first, in "full military garb." Even though he was toting a rifle, holding it to his chest, he was "walking casually."

"It seemed very strange to me," she told us, so she got out of the way.

Later, when KCRW staffers were finally evacuated, she said, she saw what appeared to be the same guy, down. "He looked dead to me," she said. This matches our two previous KCRW eyewitnesses who saw in a man in black down in a pool of blood soon after they were evacuated. Stay tuned.

Also, UCLA reports at its press conference that one victim has dead from her injuries. Another victim is in serious condition with a head wound. Three more people were injured and are currently being treated.

[Added at 3:51 p.m.]: Ava Rezai, 20, was in a second floor study room in the Santa Monica College library when people started running and there was commotion.

As she and others attempted to leave they heard about three shots and went back inside the room to hide out. She called 911 at 12:05 p.m.

After police came, maybe 10 minutes later, the people were escorted out, hands on their heads, single file.

Outside she saw the body of a man in black. "I saw a body that was dressed all in black on the floor."

"He looked like a policeman."

She said finals end Tuesday.

[Added at 4:20 p.m.]: Police confirm they shot the suspect dead at the scene, however, they are not 100 percent sure he acted alone. There was a "series of consecutive incidents," they say.

At a press conference, Santa Monica Police officials stressed that this was "not a school shooting" -- instead, it was a series of (mostly) random shootings that "culminated in an incident at Santa Monica College."

They tell us there are as many as six crime scenes -- "at least" two victims were killed at a house on 2036 Yorkshire, which was then set ablaze. There was a fatal shooting at Cloverfield and Pico, followed by at least two more people shot dead at 19th and Pearl.

Only at that point did the gunman head to Santa Monica College, where he shot a few people -- one of whom apparently later died at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. See the college custodian's eyewitness report on one of the college shootings.

"At least" a half-dozen are dead, with two to three more people injured.

The blue-and-white apartment building above was being raided by police in connection with the shootings.
The blue-and-white apartment building above was being raided by police in connection with the shootings.
Dennis Romero

We're told police are now raiding an apartment at Centinela and Palms in Mar Vista (pictured above). They tell us it's related to today's shooting -- part of a "follow-up investigation." We'll have more as this develops.

[Added at 5:58 p.m.] We're told that the scene at Centinela and Palms has proven to be a bust. An apartment there appears to be connected to someone with the same last name as the family at 2036 Yorkshire. And Captain Ed Pape of the LAPD tells us that they'd received two separate calls -- one of a man with a gun in the area who appeared to match the description of the Santa Monica gunman; the other of a man down.

But once police rushed to the scene, it appears those calls may have been inaccurate. The police searched the area, but did not enter any apartments. They've now cleared the scene. Obviously, the investigation continues, but there's no sense this apartment building will play any role in the search for answers going forward.

[Update at 8:37 p.m.]: Santa Monica police Sgt. Richard Lewis tonight revised the number of dead down from six to four, plus the shooter.

He said investigators were dealing with 9 crime scenes spread across a one-square-mile area.

Two people were found dead at the home that was burned, Lewis said. The gunman then shot at a car and then carjacked another, forcing a woman to drive him west, he said.

At Coverfield and Pico he opened fire on a bus, Lewis said. Three people in it walked into a nearby hospital with minor injuries.

At 20th and Pearl, at Lot 1 of SMC, the suspect opened fire on a red Ford Explorer, he said. The driver died and the passenger was injured.

On campus he fired at a woman, described above, who died at a hospital, Lewis said.

Inside the nearby library the suspect was shot by police, Lewis said. He was dragged outside the building, where he died, he said.

In addition to the fatalities there was one person in critical condition and three with minor injuries connected to the attacks, Lewis said.

A man who was detained earlier as a person of interest was questioned and released. Lewis said he had a valid reason for being on campus.

[Added at 6:12 p.m. Sunday]: A 5th victim of the shooter has died. See more here.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.


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