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Gunman Fires Into Crowds In Santa Barbara, Killing Six

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Seven people are dead, including the shooter, after the incident near University of California, Santa Barbara. NPR's Scott Simon talks to KCLU reporter John Palminteri, who was on the scene.


Seven people have died including the shooter after a gunman drove through the beachside community of Santa Barbara, Calif. last night. John Palminteri of station KCLU joins us now from Santa Barbara. Mr. Palminteri, thanks very much for being with us.

JOHN PALMINTERI: Yeah. It's a sad morning in the college town of Ila Vista, which is right next to the University of California Santa Barbara.

SIMON: Do police have any sense of whether these were random killings? Were they targeted premeditation?

PALMINTERI: They have a sense. They aren't revealing the name of the person right now. But they do say there's video and written evidence that they have obtained. So they're fairly certain they know who they are dealing with and what was going through his mental state prior to this. But it does not appear as though there's any specific person or persons he was driving around to locate and shoot. But he had some anger, from what we know, and was directing it at people to make a statement.

SIMON: So it might be premeditated killings, but random targets.

PALMINTERI: Yes. There are nine different crime scenes in what is essentially a college town - about a half square mile. Twenty thousand college students live there. And on Friday nights, as you know, they're all out on their bikes or walking to get something to eat or go to some entertainment or go to a party. So the streets are filled, which made this all the more tragic with this vehicle going through and shots being fired. As you may have heard, even a bicyclist was hit violently and went - and smashed the windshield and had a massive head injury and is in the hospital. So it wasn't just gunshot wounds. There were also people being hit by the vehicle.

SIMON: The reports have it that the sheriff's deputies seemed to be on the scene very quickly. Any idea how that happened?

PALMINTERI: Yes. They are deployed in this town frequently on weekend nights because of the nature of the beast out there. The college crowd can sometimes be rather festive. And so they have a foot patrol office - a substation if you will - in that area. And they're very familiar with the streets and the students and the businesses and the whole infrastructure. It's been going on since the '70s. And this is a very activity community, too.

You might recall they had the burning of the Bank of America war protest back in the '70s. So they've had an Ila Vista foot patrol office there for some time. And when these shots went out, the deputies with the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department not only heard the shots, but as the vehicle moved around, they were radioing ahead. And other deputies then engaged the shooter in a rolling gunfire. And it was two different locations where they had a moving gun battle with this driver until there was a car crash. And he was pronounced dead either by a self-inflicted wound or shots fired from the deputy.

SIMON: In just the 10 seconds we have left, is the university under some kind of enhanced security today?

PALMINTERI: No. The university is not, but will be probably, likely providing space for the families to gather and also counseling and therapy for all of the students who are waking up this morning in tears or an absolute state of shock.

SIMON: Thanks so much. John Palminteri of KCLU in Santa Barbara.

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