Police Probe Crime Scenes, Seek Motive in Santa Monica Shootings
(SANTA MONICA, Calif.) — Authorities are investigating approximately nine crime scenes across Santa Monica, Calif. in hopes of finding answers as to why a man went on a shooting spree that left five people dead including the suspected gunman.
“(The) Incident is not a college or school shooting. It’s rather a series of shootings that occurred in the city of Santa Monica and culminated with a shooting incident that occurred at Santa Monica College,” Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said.
Five to seven of those crime scenes apparently involved gunshots fired, Santa Monica Police Sgt. Richard Lewis told reporters late Friday.
Authorities first responded to a report of shots fired at 11:52 a.m. PT and found a house on fire. Two dead bodies were found inside the home, fire officials said.
The suspected gunman, whose name has not been released, reportedly then carjacked a woman at gunpoint and forced her to drive him to Santa Monica College’s campus, spraying bullets at nearby vehicles on the route.
Joe Orcutt told ABC News he came face to face with the shooter.
“When I saw the gun pointing at me, I ducked and heard the bullet whiz by,” he said.
According to police, the suspect fired on two people in a Ford Explorer in the campus faculty parking lot. That vehicle later crashed into a wall.
The driver was killed and the passenger was in critical condition, authorities said.
Once on campus, the suspected shooter, who was dressed in all black, opened fire at bystanders, fatally shooting at least one woman and before he went inside a library on campus, police said.
“He continued to shoot at them,” Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said. “The officers came in and directly engaged the suspect, and he was shot and killed on the scene.”
While authorities first stated the shootings left as many as six people dead, they later downgraded to five deaths, which included four victims and the shooter himself.
Lewis suggested the higher initial count may have been caused by overlapping witness reports of the same fatalities.
In addition to the dead, at least five people were injured, police said.
They included one critically injured person whose life was in jeopardy, a person hospitalized in serious but stable condition and three people sent to hospitals with less serious injuries, Lewis said.
The college campus went on lockdown following the shootings as police attempted to secure the scene. Students were not allowed to return to campus this morning.
In 911 calls, the shooter was described as armed with several weapons and possibly a long gun or shotgun.
Seabrooks said the suspect used an AR-15 assault rifle, though Santa Monica Police Sgt. Richard Lewis later qualified the description.
“It’s an assault-type rifle,” he said. “I don’t want to go as far as to say it’s an AR-15, but that is the style of rifle it is.”
Elsewhere on the campus, a person of interest was taken into custody, then released when his claim not to be involved checked out, Lewis said.
“He is not a suspect in this case,” Lewis said. “At this time, we believe it is a single gunman and that part of it has been resolved.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, the suspect may have been acting out in anger after a family dispute, though the investigation is still in its early phases.
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