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SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KABC) — Five people are dead including a gunman and at least five injured after a house fire and subsequent shootings near Santa Monica College Friday. The death toll was revised from seven dead to five dead in an 8 p.m. police news conference.
Officials say the violence began at a house on Yorkshire Avenue that was consumed by flames, then continued with a gunman firing randomly at people and vehicles on Pico Boulevard before moving onto the Santa Monica College campus. The suspected gunman was fatally shot by police on campus
Police said they were investigating as many as nine crime scenes related to Friday’s shootings and fire.
The main campus remained locked down Friday night and will stay on lockdown until further notice, according to Santa Monica College. Law enforcement personnel were conducting a campus-wide sweep and investigating backpacks and other items. No items will be released until further notice. Vehicles parked on the main campus will also be inaccessible until further notice, according to SMC. Owners will be notified when they are allowed to retrieve their vehicles.
A statement from the college president said the investigation would be ongoing through the weekend and people should stay away from the campus during that time. President Chui Tsang said there would be counseling available for students and staff beginning this weekend.
2 men killed in Santa Monica house fire
Police responded to the 2000 block of Yorkshire Avenue shortly before noon following reports of a structure fire. Neighbors heard shots and saw a gunman standing outside the blaze.
“There was a guy standing in the street, dressed in full SWAT gear with a semi-automatic rifle in his hand and a belt full of ammunition,” a witness said.
The gunman then attempted to carjack a woman. When she hesitated, the suspect shot the woman in the arm and fled. The female victim was transported to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and was listed in good condition.
Responding officers found two dead males in the house fire. Law enforcement and medical personnel later confirmed one of those victims died of a gunshot wound.
Shooting spree ends on Santa Monica College campus
Police believe the suspect then fired his gun several times along the areas of 20th Street and Pico Boulevard, Cloverfield and Pico boulevards and 19th and Pearl streets.
A person was fatally shot at Cloverfield and Olympic boulevards and two others were confirmed dead near 20th and Pearl streets.
California Highway Patrol Sgt. Denise Joslin said the suspect also shot at a bus traveling down Cloverfield Boulevard near Pico Boulevard. A woman was grazed by a bullet but no one was killed, according to officials. The driver stopped the bus less than a mile away on Olympic Boulevard.
Another shooting believed to be related was reported a few blocks east of the school’s campus on 21st Street. An eyewitness told ABC7 cameraman Shawn McCarthy that a man dressed in black got out of a vehicle at a nearby intersection and started shooting indiscriminately.
A red SUV crashed into a parking-lot wall near the campus. Police said the driver was shot and later died. The passenger was injured in the vehicle by gunfire.
According to authorities, the gunman shot at several vehicles before exchanging gunfire with police. He then attempted to evade police by running to the Santa Monica College campus.
Gunman shot by police in college library
Officials said additional shots were then exchanged on the college campus as the suspect headed toward the library. It was unclear how many rounds were fired but witnesses reported hearing multiple shots.
Sheriff’s officials have confirmed that the suspect shot a woman just before entering the library. That woman died. He also accosted a number of patrons inside the library and attempted to shoot them. Those individuals were not hit.
The suspected gunman in the Santa Monica shootings was then shot by police in a firefight inside the Santa Monica College library, according to Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks. The suspect was taken out of the library and died on a sidewalk.
A prone body clad in black clothing could be seen outside the library surrounded by officers. There were no attempts to resuscitate the individual.
The deceased suspect was not immediately identified but was described by police as a white male between 25 and 30 years old. Seabrooks said the suspect was dressed in all black and used an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Other witnesses described the same gun in some of the shootings.
A second person was detained as a person of interest. Hours later police released that person, police said in a news conference.
Police said they believe a single gunman was acting alone. A motive was not immediately determined.
Santa Monica shooting spree victims
Three female victims were transported the victims to the UCLA Reagan Medical Center following the shooting on campus.
One of the female victims who was initally listed in critical condition died from her injuries. Another victim was out of surgery and was moved to an intensive care unit where she remained in critical condition. The third victim was listed in fair condition, according to the hospital.
Another three victims suffering from shrapnel injuries were transported to UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica and have since been released.
Santa Monica College students describe scene
Santa Monica College student Sam Luster was preparing for a presentation in the school’s library when he heard gunshots.
“We didn’t know what was happening until all the students at the entrance of the library started running down towards the bottom of the library,” said Luster. He then took cover under a desk before heading towards the exit. Near the exit, Luster says he heard multiple gun shots.
Santa Monica College student Chad Lazzari also heard what he says sounded like a gun shot and then repetitive shots. Lazzari says that’s when several hundred people panicked and tried to exit the building.
“One of the doors wasn’t opening so a lot of kids were panicking against the locked door and funneled around to the other side,” said Lazzari.
Lazzari also said he saw a car blasted with bullet holes parked in the middle of the campus.
Shooting prompts lockdown at nearby schools
Nearby schools including Santa Monica High School, Will Rogers Elementary School and John Adams Middle School were locked down. Students were released to their parents or persons on their emergency contact list shortly after 3 p.m.
President Barack Obama was en route to Santa Monica to attend a Democratic National Committee fundraising event. The Secret Service was notified but a spokesman for the Secret Service, Edwin Donovan, said the shooting did not impact Obama’s visit.
“We are aware of the incident and it is not impacting the visit,” Donovan said. “It’s a local police matter at this point.”
The president left the area later in the day to travel to the Palm Springs area for a meeting with the president of China.
Santa Monica support hotline
All Santa Monica College campus activities have been canceled for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Officials said normal activities were set to resume on Monday.
Students and employees were urged to call (866) 315-7370, a 24-hour support hotline, for assistance.