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Friday, June 7, 2013

Gunman opens fire near California college injuring four; two found dead in nearby burned home

SANTA MONICA — One person died Friday and five others were hospitalized following a shooting on the Santa Monica College campus and one suspect was said to be in custody.

Multiple agencies responded to the campus at 1900 Pico Boulevard following a 911 call of a man with one or more guns firing south of the campus. The call came in about 11:55 a.m.

As of 3 p.m., the 38-acre campus had not yet been cleared. School officials reported that final exams had been canceled for the day and would be rescheduled.

All schools in the surrounding area were placed on lockdown following the shooting. However, lock downs were reportedly lifted at McKinley, Franklin, and Roosevelt elementary schools just after 3:14 p.m. It was unclear if all of the suspected shooters were in custody.

Prior to the campus shooting, two people were found dead in a burned home near the college. Witnesses reported hearing gunfire before seeing that home go up in smoke. Witnesses reported that people nearby tried to put the fire out.

Jeff Furrows of the Santa Monica Fire Department told the Associated Press there was extensive fire damage inside the home, and that a woman with a gunshot wound also was found in a car outside the burned home.

There was no official word that the two scenes were connected.

Five people were being treated at an area hospital, according to reports.

A body was reportedly found on the southern end of the Santa Monica College campus, an eyewitness told CBS2.

Jimes Gillespie, 20, told The Associated Press he was in the college’s library studying when he heard gunfire, and he and dozens of other students began fleeing the three-story building.

“As I was running down the stairs I saw one of the gunmen,” said Gillespie, who described the shooter as a white man in his 20s, wearing cornrows in his hair and black overalls. He said the man was carrying a shotgun.

Gillespie believes there were two shooters because he heard two kinds of gunfire — a shotgun and a handgun — but only saw one person, according to the Associated Press.

President Barack Obama was in Santa Monica earlier in the day speaking at a luncheon fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee about a 10-minute drive from where the shooting took place. The President departed from Los Angeles International Airport just after 2:40 p.m. to travel to Rancho Mirage, where he was expected to meet with President Xi Jinping of China.

It’s not known if the shooting is related to his presence in the city. Secret Service officials were aware of the shooting, but told reporters the President’s visit was not affected.

Some students remained on campus shortly before 1 p.m. and were ordered to shelter-in-place, according to CBS2′s Kara Finnstrom.

The campus is considered a gun-free zone that bans possession of “firearms or replicas, ammunition, explosives, knives/blades longer than 21/2 inches, other weapons, or fireworks”, according to official security policy.

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