By Tami Abdollah
---- — SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — A man with a semi-automatic rifle killed at least six people and wounded several others yesterday as he carried out a deadly rampage across several blocks of a normally idyllic beachfront city before police shot him dead in the Santa Monica College Library.
The violence began when the gunman, dressed in all black and wearing what appeared to be a ballistic jacket, opened fire on a house where two bodies were found, Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said.
As the house burst into flames, the man wounded a woman in a car before moving toward the campus, spraying bullets as he went. Police said he opened fire on a city bus, a police car and other vehicles, as well as bystanders and pedestrians.
He killed three people on the street before shooting at an SUV leaving a campus parking lot. That vehicle’s driver was killed and two passengers were wounded as the car crashed through a block wall.
From there, the gunman entered the campus, shooting a woman as he made his way toward the college’s library, where students were studying for final exams.
“We saw a woman get shot in the head,” said administrative assistant Trena Johnson, who looked out the window of the dean’s office, where she works, when she heard gunfire. “I haven’t been able to stop shaking,” she said.
Inside the library, students reported hearing gunfire and screams.
“I was totally scared to death and I can’t believe it happened so fast,” said Vincent Zhang, a 20-year-old economics major who said he heard a woman pleading, “No, no. Please, no.”
The gunman continued to shoot at people in the library, Seabrooks said, but apparently didn’t hit anybody there as dozens ran for the exits.
“The officers came in and directly engaged the suspect and he was shot and killed on the scene,” she said.
Just 3 miles away, President Barack Obama was attending a fundraising luncheon. Secret Service spokesman Max Milien said the agency was aware of the shooting, which began just before noon, but it had no impact on the president’s event.
After the gunman was killed, police wearing helmets and armed with shotguns and rifles searched the campus for a second shooter. A man dressed entirely in black, the words “Life is a Gamble” on the back of his sweatshirt, was seen being led away in handcuffs.
“We are not convinced 100 percent that the suspect who was killed operated in a solo or alone capacity,” Seabrooks said, describing the person in custody as a “subject of interest.”
The identities of the man arrested and those who were killed were not immediately released.
Five of the gunman’s victims died immediately. The sixth died at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where she had been admitted in critical condition.
Two other women were also admitted to the hospital, said Dr. Marshall Morgan, the chief of emergency medicine. One was listed in critical condition after undergoing surgery. The other arrived in serious condition but was upgraded to fair condition last night.
Three other women went to UCLA Medical Center Santa Monica with relatively minor injuries, Morgan said. One had shrapnel-type injuries and the two others had injuries not related to gunfire, he said. All were treated and released.