'Get out of here, run, run': Witnesses describe terror as gunman kills four in Santa Monica shooting spree before police shoot him

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Gunman acted alone, and victims included killer's father and brother, say authorities after shootings end at college campus

Los Angeles is not unfamiliar with gun crime, and on Friday the city made its entry into the recent history of mass shootings, when a gunman killed four people in the beachfront suburb of Santa Monica, before being cornered and shot dead by police near the library of a local college.

The suspect’s rampage began shortly before midday at a home in a residential neighbourhood beside the busy I-10 freeway, where he reportedly killed two men before leaving the house engulfed in flames. The authorities later said they believed the killer’s first victims were his father and brother. It was not clear how the blaze had begun.

Neither the gunman nor his motive had been publicly identified by late Friday evening, but witnesses described him as a white man of between 25 and 30 years old, with corn-rows in his hair, dressed in black and wearing a bullet-proof vest and ammunition belt. He is thought to have been armed with an AR-15 assault rifle.

Mike McCaffrey, a father who lives in the immediate vicinity of the house, said, “It’s a great neighbourhood. Santa Monica is pretty safe, so this was a shock. At about noon I was driving home and I saw the fire billowing. I thought it was my friend’s house, but it was the place across the street. Somebody had been shot in a car just outside and taken to the hospital.”

After leaving the burning house, the gunman had walked west towards the ocean along Pico Boulevard, where witnesses said he opened fire at random, spraying bullets at a bus and a police car. He reportedly hijacked a Mazda, and then ordered its driver to take him towards the leafy campus of Santa Monica College, where he was pursued by police.

Many students were on the premises at the time, taking or preparing for their annual finals exams. Blake, 20, a sports medicine student, was close to the end of an exam when, he told The Independent, “There was a commotion, people running past the classroom. We heard people screaming, and gunshots from the library. We waited in the classroom until a SWAT team came in. They told us to put our hands in the air, patted everyone down and escorted us out.”

Several people were in the library as the suspect entered, and afterwards recounted how they had scrambled for cover when they heard gunfire. One witness told AP: “I heard a girl screaming. She said, ‘No, no please no’”, while another recalled, “Everybody kept saying, ‘Get out of here, run, run’”.

The initial death toll of seven was downgraded last night to four, plus the gunman, who was confronted and ultimately killed by police on the college campus. Officials said one further victim was still in critical condition at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Centre. Several others had sustained minor injuries during the incident.

All the city’s schools were placed on lockdown following the violence. A second “person of interest” had been taken into custody in connection with the shootings, but later released. Police said they were now satisfied that the gunman had acted alone.

Santa Monica College, which has around 36,000 students, is a mere three miles from where US President Barack Obama was attending a Democratic Party fundraiser. Mr Obama, in California for a weekend of talks with the Chinese President Xi Jinping, had just finished addressing the event at the Santa Monica home of media mogul Peter Chernin when the shootings occurred. A secret service spokesman said the day’s events would not affect the President’s schedule.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea