A police officer looks through a bullet-damaged window at the IHOP restaurant in Carson City, Nev., where a gunman went on a rampage Tuesday (Sept. 6, 2011).
A police officer looks through a bullet-damaged window at the IHOP restaurant in Carson City, Nev., where a gunman went on a rampage Tuesday (Sept. 6, 2011). Cathleen Allison/AP
Ralph Swagler was in his family's barbecue restaurant in Carson City, Nev., Tuesday morning when he heard gunshots outside and saw a man armed with what authorities say was an AK-47 walk into a nearby IHOP restaurant.
"I had my pistol; [but] I wasn't going up against an automatic rifle," Swagler told the Reno Gazette Journal afterward. "I'm sorry. I wish I would have shot him in the back now as he was going toward IHOP, but I wasn't clear on the situation."
That's one detail in the Gazette Journal's account this morning of the deadly shooting spree that left four victims dead and seven others wounded. The lone suspect, identified as 32-year-old Eduardo Sencion, shot himself and died later.
So far, there's no answer to the always critical question: Why?
As Reno's KTVN-TV reports, "in all, five of the 11 victims were National Guard members who were seated at the back of the dining area where the shooting began."
But according to The Associated Press, "the shooter's motive was unclear, but family members said he had mental issues. He had never been in the military and had no known affiliation with anyone inside the restaurant."
One word that comes to mind after reading the Gazette Journal story is disbelief.
— "The waitress was still standing at the table," said Ethlyn MacDonald, an IHOP customer, "when all of a sudden we heard loud pops. I thought, 'What's happening?' "
— "This happens in Third World countries," said Swagler. "Not here."
Update at 12:22 p.m. ET. 'Most Devastating Attack' In City's History:
Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong says this incident is particularly chilling, because Carson City had not had a homicide in three years.
"This is unquestionably the most devastating attack in Carson City's history," Furlong said during a press conference.
Furlong also said that because the victims were not only National Guards, he could not say if the military was targeted.
Furlong added that there were "indications [Sencion] had been committed."
Nevada National Guard Brig. Gen. Bill Burks said as part of a "normal security procedure," National Guard are being asked not to wear uniforms when they're outside the base.
For more details, the Tahoe Daily Tribune's website is running live coverage of the shooting and its aftermath.