Washington, June 8 (IANS) A gunman, clad in black tactical gear and carrying an automatic rifle, killed four people in Santa Monica College in California, just a 10-minute drive away from a place where US President Barack Obama was for a fundraiser. The gunman was later killed by police.
Obama’s schedule was not affected by the shooting or police follow-up, according to CNN affiliate KCAL/KCBS.
Police, responding to rifle fire cracking through the air just before noon Friday in Santa Monica, found a house was ablaze and the gunman gone, CNN reported.
By the time officers caught up with the gunman, he had killed four people and wounded five more on a nearly mile-long shooting rampage, Santa Monica police spokesman Sgt. Richard Lewis said.
Authorities had said earlier that six died, but later revised the number down to four.
The gunman was killed in a firefight with police, bringing the total number of fatalities to five.
In the charred house, firefighters and police found the bodies of the first two victims, both men. They may have known — or even been related to — their killer, whom police described as a white male between ages 25 and 30, CNN said.
Police have not disclosed the name of the gunman. Officials believe he chose the rest of his victims at random.
He was clad in black and outfitted with a tactical vest that contained no body armour. Witnesses later described him as calm, cool and methodical.
He carried an “AR-15 style rifle”, pistols and “more clips for the rifle”, Lewis said.
The shooter began his rampage at a residence near the campus of Santa Monica College. He then shot at a passing car before carjacking another vehicle, Lewis said.
He forced the driver, a woman, to drive onto the college campus. There he shot two people in a passing vehicle.
One died at the scene. The gunman also fatally shot someone outside the campus library, where he engaged police in a gunfight, Lewis said. Officers fatally wounded him.
A number of students were in the library building studying for finals when the gunman burst in. More than 30,000 students are enrolled in the two-year community college.