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Gunman Killed, at Least 6 Dead in Santa Monica


The suspect in a series of shootings that left at least six people dead in Santa Monica, Calif. on Friday was killed in a shootout with police, authorities said.

The number of victims has changed multiple times over the course of a quickly developing breaking news story with multiple crime scenes.

In a Friday afternoon news conference, Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said the shooter was killed on the campus of Santa Monica College after attempting to evade police responding to multiple shootings that began about a mile from the school.

At least two people were killed in a home that burned, then the gunman fired on people in a series of "random encounters" that proceeded along Pico Boulevard toward the final shootout in Santa Monica College library, Seabrooks said.

"The officers came in and directly engaged the suspect, and he was shot and killed on the scene," Seabrooks said. "The information we have indicates, at this point, that as many as half a dozen victims were shot and killed, and several more were injured."

Seabrooks then clarified that two people were dead in a home in Yorkshire Avenue that was ablaze about a mile from campus. Another person died on Cloverfield Boulevard, and two were killed on 19th and Pearl streets.

Another woman later died in the hospital, Seabrooks said.

Earlier Friday, Dr. Marshall T. Morgan, a spokesman for Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, said one gunshot victim had died at the hospital. Two other victims transported to the medical center remain hospitalized -- one in critical condition, the other with "minor injuries," Morgan said.

Three female victims at UCLA-Santa Monica Medical Center are in good condition.

Meanwhile late Friday afternoon, in the nearby 3500 block of Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles police had shut down an intersection and had a broad response in an investigation that LAPD officials said could be related to the Santa Monica incidents.

Two bodies had been discovered inside a burned home where a gunman clad in SWAT-like gear was seen by a witness about a mile from Santa Monica College. The shootings apparently started at that scene before proceeding toward the school.

However, authorities cautioned that the incidents were directly related to the community college.

"This is not a school shooting," said Al Vasquez, chief of the Santa Monica College Police Department. "This began off-campus and it was unfortunate that the suspect chose SMC to continue his crimes."

Officers had responded to the Santa Monica College campus about noon after a gunman fired at a bus and other vehicles.

Witnesses reported seeing a gunman outside the burning home at Kansas and Yorkshire avenues (map) just minutes before the shots were fired at vehicles at Pearl Street and 17th Street (map). 

"This guy just stepped out with a big rifle," bus passenger and student Marta Fagerstroem said of the shooting by Santa Monica College.

Fagerstroem told NBC4 she was studying as the bus, pictured below, traveled along Pico Boulevard when a gunman opened fire on the transit vehicle. The gunman came out of the passenger side of a car, she said.

The gunman had body armor, a helmet and "an assault rifle," a witness said.

Neighbors told NBC4 the gunman is related to people who lived at the home that was burned about one mile northwest of Santa Monica College.

Jerry Cunningham-Rathner said she heard gunshots and ran out of her home to see a man in front of a house across the street -- and the house was on fire.

Two cars slowed to a stop, and the gunman walked over to them, indicating a blue Mazda hatchback should pull over. He motioned to the second car to keep driving, Cunningham-Rathner said.

"He looked official, like a SWAT team guy, dressed in black with his belt full of ammo,” Cunningham-Rathner said. "You could smell the gunshots."

When the driver of the second car hesitated, the gunman fired two to three shots point blank into her car, Cunningham-Rathner said.

She ran into her home to call 911. When she came back outside, the gunman had gotten into the blue Mazda’s passenger seat and the female driver was pulling away in an apparent carjacking.

Cunningham-Rathner went to the aid of the woman who was shot. Authorities said a woman from that scene was hospitalized.

Three victims shot near the Santa Monica College campus, just blocks from the site of a fundraiser attended by President Barack Obama, were taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

A man was taken into custody near campus, though it was not immediately clear whether he was connected to the shooting. Witnesses described the gunman as a white male, but the man taken into custody does match witness descriptions.

As police were leading him into a squad car, the man told photographers, "No, I just went in to find my ex-girlfriend."

At about noon, witnesses reported a "fully armed" subject discharging a firearm at vehicles at the campus, according to the California Highway Patrol. The gunman opened fire on public transit bus and cars, according to California Highway Patrol Sgt. Denise Joslin.

A woman on the bus (pictured, right) was hit and was bleeding from her head, she said. A spokesman for UCLA Medical Center said the woman was in good condition with a flesh wound and was likely hit by shrapnel.

“Everyone threw themselves on the floor, screams,” passenger Fagerstroem said. “The bus driver, she panicked. She couldn’t drive away. She was able to, after a while.”

The Santa Monica Big Blue Bus had several visible bullet holes. There were reports of injuries involving bus passengers, said CHP Officer Kerri Rivas, a department spokeswoman.

The agency received several 911 calls involving reports of shots fired in the area.

"We are aware of at least one suspect, there may possibly be others," Joslin said.

The two-year college in the 1900 block of Pico Boulevard is on lockdown Friday afternoon. All schools in the Santa Monica area were on lockdown, according to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

Lockdown orders at Santa Monica High School were lifted about 3 p.m. The school’s graduation set for Friday evening will go on as scheduled, a student told NBC4. Lockdowns at 10 other campuses were also lifted.

Afternoon and evening finals on Santa Monica College's main campus scheduled for Friday were canceled.

As for the President's Santa Monica fundraiser, it was several blocks north of the campus. Air Force One departed LAX at about 2:30 p.m.

"We are aware of the incident and it is not impacting the visit. It’s a local police matter at this point," said Secret Service spokesman Edwin M. Donovan.

Refresh this page for updates.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

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