NIU Gunman Had 'Stopped Taking Medication'

Students gather for a prayer service on the campus of Northern Illinois University to pray for those i i

Students gather for a prayer service on the campus of Northern Illinois University to pray for those killed and wounded in Thursday's shooting at Cole Hall. hide caption

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Students gather for a prayer service on the campus of Northern Illinois University to pray for those

Students gather for a prayer service on the campus of Northern Illinois University to pray for those killed and wounded in Thursday's shooting at Cole Hall.

The gunman who shot and killed five people at Northern Illinois University before turning the gun on himself had recently become erratic after stopping his medication, authorities said.

The gunman was identified as 27-year-old former student Stephen Kazmierczak. He carried a shotgun in a guitar case along with three handguns into a crowded lecture hall before opening fire on Thursday.

"He had stopped taking medication and become somewhat erratic in the last couple of weeks," Campus Police Chief Donald Grady said, declining to name the drug or provide other details.

Grady said investigators have recovered 48 shell casings and six shotgun shells following the attack.

Two of the weapons — the pump-action Remington shotgun and a Glock 9mm handgun — were purchased legally on Feb. 9, in Champaign, where Kazmierczak was enrolled at the University of Illinois, authorities said.

NIU President John Peters, who defended the university's response to the crisis, said a candlelight vigil was planned Friday night to remember the victims.

Allyse Jerome, 19, a sophomore from Schaumburg, said she was unsure how to react Thursday, when the gunman burst through a stage door and pulled out a gun.

"Honestly, at first everyone thought it was a joke," Jerome said. Everyone hit the floor. Then Jerome got up and ran, but she tripped. Jerome said she "thought for sure he was going to get me."

Senior Anita Hershberger was heading home to Arthur, Ill., after the shooting.

"I myself am in shock and I think a lot of other people are, too," she told NPR. "We heard about (the) Virginia Tech (shooting) and we never really thought something like that would happen here."

She said she hopes to return to help the campus heal.

President Bush on Friday described the shooting as a tragedy and asked people to "offer their blessings."

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