The shooting that left at least three people wounded in the Santa Monica College area began when the alleged gunman broke into a nearby home and set fire to another property, law enforcement sources said.
The gunman then allegedly opened fire on several cars and appeared to try to carjack two vehicles, the sources said. One of the carjackings occurred near the campus library and college police station.
The suspect fled to the library, where he wounded by police, the sources added.
PHOTOS: Shooting at Santa Monica College
Police said they are trying to piece together the crime spree.
The bomb squad has also been called to the campus.
The California Highway Patrol said it received reports of shots fired at 11:55 a.m. at the corner of 17th and Pearl streets on the south side of the Santa Monica College campus. Sources said the shootings occurred in "multiple locations."
CHP officer Vince Ramirez told The Times one suspect is in custody and that officers are trying to determine if there was a second shooter. Other sources said they believe there was only one shooter.
At around 1 p.m., six sheriffs just ran into a parking lot at 17th and Pico Boulevard with guns drawn. A car with bullet holes was visible in one college lot.
President Obama was in the area for a fundraiser at the time but sources said the shooting appears to be unrelated to his visit.
Secret Service spokesman Edwin M. Donovan said: "We are aware of the incident and it is not impacting the visit. It’s a local police matter at this point."
A staff member at the college superintendent’s office said the whole campus was on lockdown, including her office -- which she said was off site.
“We’ve been told that there was a shooting,” said the employee, Lety Kilian said.
Alan Bass, 48, of Los Angeles was pacing anxiously outside the campus hoping to hear news of his son, who was on campus during the shooting. Bass said his son was taking an exam Friday and had called about 10 minutes before noon to say he was taking a break from studying.
Suddenly he heard three shots fired and his son said he had to go. "He's not answering the phone right now," Bass said.
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Times Staff Writers Joel Rubin, Robert Faturechi, Joseph Serna and Kate Mather contributed to this report.