Fatal Shootings In Santa Monica Leave Several Injured
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
A grim and chaotic scene today in Santa Monica, California. That's where authorities say at least six people are dead after a shooting rampage that ended violently on the campus of Santa Monica Community College. Several more people are being treated at area hospitals. Authorities say some injuries are serious, others minor. The shooting triggered lockdowns at the college and at other nearby schools. NPR's Kirk Siegler joins us now with the latest from NPR West in Culver City. And Kirk, what have you learned so far?
KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: Well, Audie, still a lot more questions than answers, as you might expect. Information is still coming in. And as you said, a very chaotic scene today. And the reported death toll has been going up in the hours since all of this began this afternoon. Here's Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks who spoke at a news conference recently.
JACQUELINE SEABROOKS: 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. And I've recently been informed that another victim recently died at the hospital.
SIEGLER: So as you can hear, Audie, still a very fluid situation and a lot is not known. What Seabrooks did say is that the man killed two people in a house near the campus that was then - that house was then engulfed in flames. He left that property dressed all in black, police say, and started making his way toward the campus of Santa Monica Community College, where he then reportedly shot and killed two more people as he traveled several blocks toward the campus. Now, once he got to the campus, police say he shot and killed two more people.
CORNISH: And police reportedly had a confrontation with the suspect. What happened?
SIEGLER: That - what we know is that appeared to have occurred in the library. The suspect fired several more shots - didn't hit anyone, according to police. And that's where police were able to, in Seabrooks' words, directly engage the suspect. He was shot and killed on the scene. Now this is still very an active crime scene with a lot of unanswered questions - I want to stress that. But authorities have also not identified a motive, nor have they identified the gunman, and they're reportedly investigating whether he acted alone. Now Chief Seabrooks did say at that news conference this afternoon that the police are not one hundred percent convinced that the suspect was operating alone. So much of that investigation does appear to be centered in that home that was burning, and any possible links out of there.
CORNISH: Kirk, give us some context here, or a sense of the neighborhood where the shootings happened.
SIEGLER: Audie, this all unfolded in what's normally a pretty quiet residential neighborhood in Santa Monica. That's of course the coastal city just west of Los Angeles. The campus itself is in the heart of Santa Monica. Lots of leafy streets surround it, many of which have now been cordoned off and - with police tape, and are at the center of a very active crime scene and a very chaotic scene on that campus there today. The college has been on lockdown, of course, and the area schools in the city were also on lockdown.
CORNISH: And this happened around the same time and near where President Obama was speaking at a fundraiser at a private home.
SIEGLER: Yes. That fundraiser was occurring about three miles from the campus and the neighborhood where all this went down and really around the same time. Now, authorities, I need to stress, have been quick to say they believe there's no connection between this shooting rampage and the president's visit. And that fundraiser reportedly went ahead as planned. This afternoon, Air Force One took off from LAX bound for the president's summit near Palm Springs with the Chinese president as all of this was still unfolding just a few miles to the north of the airport.
CORNISH: Kirk, thank you.
SIEGLER: Thank you, Audie.
CORNISH: That's NPR's Kirk Siegler, reporting on the shooting spree Santa Monica that's left seven people dead, including the gunman.
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