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7 dead in bloody rampage on streets of Santa Monica

June 07, 2013|By Robert Faturechi, Scott Glover and Rosanna Xia

UPDATE: Police say five, not seven, dead in shooting; gunman acted alone

The death toll rose to seven in what police and witnesses described as a bloody rampage on the streets of Santa Monica that ended with the alleged gunman being killed by police in the library of Santa Monica College.

The alleged gunman has not been identified, and no motive is clear. Police said he might have known some of his victims, but some of the attacks appear random. Witnesses described the suspect firing at vehicles, police officers and even a Santa Monica city bus.

Marta Fagerstroem, 30, was on the No. 7 bus, studying for a final exam when the big blue transit bus stopped at a red light on Pico and Cloverfield boulevards.  The bus driver opened her window and waved at a car in the left lane, she said.  When the light turned green, the bus didn't move, and Fagerstroem looked up from her textbook to see what was causing the delay.

As the film student looked out the window, she saw a man holding what she described as a "big rifle" on the left side of the bus.

"Everybody screamed and threw themselves on the floor," she said.  "It was so surreal."

The passengers laid on top of each other and began shielding themselves from the barrage of bullets that ripped through the bus window.  Fagerstroem saw a couple of bullets come through the windows before she ducked for cover.  Gunfire rang out as the gunman moved from the front of the bus to the back, shooting from the outside.  The passengers yelled for the driver to move the bus.

"It happened so fast," said Fagerstroem, who's from Sweden. 

The driver turned down Cloverfield Boulevard.  When Fagerstroem looked up she said a woman sitting in the back row of the bus had been wounded.  A bullet grazed the side her head. 

"She was bleeding all over herself," Fagerstroem said.

Santa Monica College remained closed. And police were converging on an apartment in Mar Vista as part of the shooting investigation.

Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks described a violent shooting rampage that appears to have begun in the 2000 block of Yorkshire Avenue just before noon.

Two people were found dead on Yorkshire Avenue and the home was on fire, authorities said.

PHOTOS: Shooting at Santa Monica College

The gunman then moved west along Pico Boulevard, firing at cars and other targets.

One person died at Cloverfield and Pico boulevards; two died at 19th Street and Pico Boulevard. Another woman died at the hospital.

Seabrooks said the gunman may not have acted alone.  A second "person of interest" is in custody.

"We are not convinced 100% that the suspect who was killed operated in solo or a lone capacity," Seabrooks said.

The suspect fled into Santa Monica College, where he was pursued by police. He shot a woman on campus and ran into the library, where he continued to fire rounds from an assault rifle.

Authorities shot and killed the gunman on campus. He has not yet been identified, but police described him as being 25 to 30 years old.

They have detained a second man, who has not been identified. He is considered a person of interest.

Santa Monica College and all schools in the city were placed on lockdown.

The shooting rampage sent Santa Monica into chaos -- just as President Obama was attending a fundraiser a few miles away.

Many college students were on campus studying -- or taking finals.

Stephen Bell and his classmates were preparing for their final tap dance performance when two women ran into their classroom next to the campus library.

They said  they'd just seen a woman getting shot in the library.

"When she said that word -- shot! -- we immediately shut the door, laid down on the floor and shut the lights," Bell said.

"I was thinking, 'Oh my god, Columbine High School," he said. "First thing that crossed my mind."

Joey Letteri, the tap instructor, was running a few minutes late and was walking to class from his office upstairs. When he got to class, the door was shut and the lights were off.

"I thought it was a surprise and that the class got a cake for me or something," he said, shaking his head at the innocent thought that had crossed his mind at the time. 

Letteri led the class through a meditation and told them to stay quiet. They tried to calm the two female students down. One couldn't stop throwing up, Letteri said, and the other was crying and shaking. 

Finally, a SWAT team arrived. Letteri told them to slide their badges under the door. Each person in the classroom had to come out individually with their hands up, he said, and they were searched before they were all escorted off campus. Officers took the two witnesses from the library aside. 

ALSO:

Santa Monica shooting: two dead, six transported to hospitals

Santa Monica College students describe moments of terror in library

Santa Monica College shooting prompts Obama motorcade rerouting

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