Santa Monica College was placed on lockdown Friday after reports that a suspect fired a gun inside a campus building just before noon.
Five people -- including the gunman -- are dead after a shooting rampage that began at a residence and ended on campus. Several people are being treated for their wounds; one was critically wounded, one is in serious but stable condition and three had minor injuries, confirmed Santa Monica Police Sergeant Richard Lewis during an 8:20 p.m. press conference.
Two of the victims, found in a burning house on the 2000 block of Yorkshire Avenue, are believed to be the brother and father of the gunman, the Los Angeles Times reports. Lewis didn't confirm the relationship except to say it could be a possibility.
At the time of the press conference, police believe there was only one shooter, added Sgt. Lewis. One person they took into custody after the shooting was questioned and then released.
WARNING: Graphic photo below.
The total shooting rampage spans about one mile, according to Lewis, and police were investigating nine crime scenes by the time of the press conference.
The crime began on the 2000 block of Yorkshire Avenue, where two bodies were found in a burning house. After the shooter left the house, he shot at one vehicle, seriously injuring the driver. He then carjacked another driver, forcing her to drive him.
On the corner of Cloverfield Boulevard and Pico Boulevard, the shooter took aim at a Santa Monica bus. Three people sustained minor injuries inside the bus but were able to enter the hospital walking, noted Lewis.
The shooter was then driven to the corner of 20th Street and Pearl Street (known as Lot 1 on the Santa Monica College campus), where he shot at two people inside a red Ford explorer. The driver sustained fatal injuries, while the passenger is in critical condition.
At this point, the shooter exited the car and fired at another victim just outside the college library. That victim was transported to the hospital, where she later died, said Lewis. Once inside the library, the shooter engaged in a gunfight with police and sustained at least one gunshot wound. He was carried out of the building by authorities and later died of his wounds on the sidewalk, confirmed Lewis.
Map of the crime scenes. Story continues below:
View Santa Monica Shooter Map in a larger map
The suspect was wearing dark black clothing and had a tactical vest on, but not a load-bearing vest, said Lewis. He was also carrying a type of assault rifle, but Lewis hesitated to confirm the model. Instead, he said it was the "style" of an AR-15 rifle. Police also recovered at least one handgun and rifle magazines from the crime scenes.
An evacuee named Daniel Kraft tweeted a photo of an unidentified body on campus grounds shortly after the shootings. Kraft told CNN that he believes he took a photo of the gunman.
While the college is no longer locked down, the campus remains closed as authorities continue to investigate multiple crime scenes. Lewis couldn't predict when students and staff would be allowed to return to gather their belongings, but said it wouldn't be Friday night.
The college plans to offer counseling services to students and staff, said Lewis. On Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., those who want to see a counselor should go to the school's Bundy campus. Counselors will be available on the main campus every weekday for the rest of the month.
California Highway Patrol spokeswoman Officer Kerri Rivas walked HuffPost through the timeline of Friday's shooting from the point of view of the CHP.
- 11:55 a.m.: CHP began receiving multiple phone calls reporting a man dressed in black standing on a street corner. The reports varied in description: witnesses described him as either fully armed, holding a shotgun or holding several different weapons.
- 11:59 a.m.: CHP started fielding calls that the gunman was actively shooting at a bus and that there were injured parties inside the vehicle (See a photo of the bus with gunshots). At that point CHP officials were able to confirm with the Santa Monica Police Department that they had an active shooter on their hands.
- 12:17 p.m.: Santa Monica College students heard screams and shots being fired inside the library.
- 1:29 p.m.: SMPD confirmed they had one shooter in custody. From then on, the department began the process of containing and clearing the entire campus in search of other victims and suspects.
- 2:11 p.m.: At the time of HuffPost's call, authorities were continuing to clear the campus. The process could take several hours.
A Santa Monica College student described the gunman in an interview with the Associated Press. From AP:
Jimes Gillespie, 20, told The Associated Press he was in the college's library studying when he heard the gunfire, and he and dozens of other students began fleeing the three-story building.
"As I was running down the stairs I saw one of the gunmen," said Gillespie, who described the shooter as a white man in his 20s, wearing cornrows in his hair and black overalls. He said the man was carrying a shotgun.
Gillespie believes there were two shooters because he heard two kinds of gunfire – a shotgun and a handgun – but only saw one person.
"The shotgun blast was first. It was either him or the partner who shot eight to 10 handgun shots," Gillespie said. "Then after I saw the gunman I heard more shots and I ran out of the library through the emergency exit."
As Gillespie ran away across campus, he said he saw a car in front of the English building that was riddled with bullet holes, had shattered windows and a baby's car seat in the back.
An arson and explosives team was on its way to the library after reports that the shooter left bags in the building, ABC7 tweeted shortly after noon. Photos on social media reveal that a SWAT team is on scene near the campus.
The college issued this statement about the incident:
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.
As a precaution, the Santa Monica Police Department put all Santa Monica public schools on lockdown at 12:15 p.m. Superintendent Sandra Lyon released a statement asking parents and caregivers to wait for official word before coming to schools to pick up their children.
President Barack Obama was about three miles away from the scene at a Democratic Party fundraiser. He was scheduled to deliver remarks around 12:30 p.m. The Secret Service says the President's trip was not impacted by the shooting.
"We are aware of the incident and it is not impacting the visit," said Secret Service Spokesman Edwin M. Donovan at the time. "It’s a local police matter at this point."
The college is in the midst of final exams. All finals scheduled on the main campus for Friday and Saturday will be rescheduled, the college said in a statement. The school is providing on-campus counseling for students and employees throughout the weekend and next week as well as 24-hour hotline support.
Santa Monica College is a two-year community college with approximately 34,000 students. The 38-acre college is open-campus and less than two miles from the beach. The school opened in 1929.