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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Shooting at Northern Illinois University: Update 6 Dead

(Rescue workers evacuate a victim of the shooting-Eric Sumberg/, via Associated Press)

Reports have started flooding in to various media outlets that there has been a shooting at Northern Illinois University. Fox News is reporting that the gunman is reported dead, according to the campus newspaper.

Two people at least are reported to have been shot by a gunman armed with a shotgun and handgun. No report yet as to how many people are injured, numbers range from 15 to 50.

Hospitals in the area were told to expect up to 15 injured people.

Shortly after 3 p.m., calls started coming over a police scanner about a white, male shooter with a shotgun and pistol.

Reports have said the shooter is down.

A university spokeswoman said at 3:10 p.m. she had just heard about the shooting and could not immediately comment on the situation.
[Update-] According to CNN, 21 people were shot by the gunman, five of them fatally, four women and a man, and then he turned the gun on himself, reported university president John Peters.

Four of them died at the scene, including the shooter and two at the hospital.

The Kishwaukee Community Hospital website says:

The most recent update was made at 8:50 p.m. on Thursday 2/14
18 patients have arrived.
1 – fatality confirmed, unidentified male (not identified as the gunman)
6 – critical patients transferred
2 flown to Saint Anthony Medical Center
3 flown to Good Samaritan Hospital
1 flown to Rockford Memorial Hospital
3 – admitted to Kishwaukee Community Hospital
8 – discharged

There will be a press conference scheduled for 11 a.m.

The shooting occurred at the front of a large lecture hall at Northern Illinois University.

The killer was a former graduate student armed with a shotgun and two handguns, dressed in black and entered through a back door and came through a curtain behind the stage before opening fire on the students.

Mr. Peters also states "The assailant began firing into the assembled class from the stage. Eyewitness accounts describe a very brief rapid-fire assault that ended with the gunman taking his own life."

The gunman was a sociology graduate student who was enrolled in classes at NIU last spring but was not currently enrolled there, Peters said. Authorities were not releasing his identity Thursday night but said they were not aware of any criminal history or violence in his past.

The gunman was found dead on the stage of the lecture hall, NIU Police Chief Donald Grady said. The shooter had a shotgun, a Glock pistol and one other small-caliber handgun, with ammunition still left in both handguns, Grady said. He said gun magazines were found "all over the floor."

"We believe there was only one shooter," Grady said. The shooting was "over in a matter of minutes," he said.

Peters said the motive for the "senseless tragedy" was unknown, but authorities had "no reason to believe" it was related to threats found on a bathroom wall on campus in December. The threats made reference to the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech.

The New York Times reports the schools immediate actions after the campus police were notified and arrived within minutes:

Shots rang out inside Cole Hall shortly after 3 p.m., Mr. Peters said. The campus police arrived within two minutes, the police said. At 3:07 p.m., the campus was ordered into a lockdown, Mr. Peters said. At 3:20 p.m., he said, the university posted an alert on its Web site, through its e-mail system and through another campus alarm system: “There has been a report of a possible gunman on campus. Get to a safe area and take precautions until given the all clear. Avoid the King Commons and all buildings in that vicinity.”

Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich declared a state of emergency after the shootings, offering state relief for expenses and the state emergency management agency to help.

Sheila Cosgrove was taking notes in the fifth row when the gunman opened fire and she tells reporters "He just walked out and just stood there on the stage and I guess he shot the teacher first, but I didn't see him shoot the teacher, I just saw him shooting at the crowd of students."

She goes on to say that she ducked behind seats and started crawling away, "I just heard shots, boom, boom, boom, and then I just kept going, I kept going. I saw blood dripping on the aisle and I just got up towards when I got to the end of the chairs because I couldn't crawl anymore. I was right by the door. I stood up and looked behind me and he was still shooting; he was shooting towards the other side of the aisle and I kind of felt his glare kind of looking at me and I just turned around really fast and kept going."

The FBI is processing the crime scene and the investigation is being aided by the Illinois State Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, the State Crisis Management Team, the City of DeKalb Police, City of Sycamore Police, DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, the Ben Gordon Center and the DeKalb, Sycamore and Cortland Fire Departments, as well as FEMA.

They also announce some hotlines for parents and students:

* 815-753-1573
* 815-753-6143
* 815-753-1574
* 815-753-1575
* 815-753-9564
* 815-753-6257
More at the scene photos are posted on NYT website, found here.

Latest information, news and notices, counseling and vigils are listed at the University website.


Prayer vigils are scheduled at the following locations:

Thursday, 2/14/08:

* Cathedral of Praise, 6 to 9 p.m.
1126 South First St., DeKalb

* Harvest Bible Chapel, 8 to 10 p.m.
2215 Bethany Road, DeKalb

* Lutheran Campus Ministry, 10 p.m.
401 Normal Road, DeKalb

* Corner of Lucinda & Normal, 12 midnight

Friday, 2/15/08:

* Newman Catholic Student Center,
512 Normal Rd., DeKalb
Mass: 12:05 p.m.
Ecumenical Prayer Service: 7:30 p.m


Counseling for NIU students is available in the following locations:

* Neptune Dining
* Psychological Services Center in the Psychology/Computer Science Building
* Stevenson Multipurpose Room
* Grant North (C/D) Lounge

Counseling is available for parents and family members in Campus Life Building 100.


Investigators are sorting through the aftermath of yesterday's shootings and trying to make some sort of order of things. Questions have begun to arise past the more general "why?" to a much more in depth meaning of questioning "why?". The assailant was hardly one whom any who knew him would have thought capable of this type of senseless aggession and violence.

If there is such a thing as a profile of a mass murderer, Stephen Kazmierczak didn't match it: outstanding student, engaging, polite and industrious, with what looked like a bright future in the criminal justice field.

And yet on Thursday, the 27-year-old Kazmierczak, armed with three handguns and a brand-new pump-action shotgun he had carried onto campus in a guitar case, stepped from behind a screen on the stage of a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University and opened fire on a geology class. He killed five students before committing suicide.

University Police Chief Donald Grady said, without giving details, that Kazmierczak had become erratic in the past two weeks after he had stopped taking his medication. But that seemed to come as news to many of those who knew him, and the attack itself was positively baffling.

"We had no indications at all this would be the type of person that would engage in such activity," Grady said. He described the gunman as a good student during his time at NIU, and by all accounts apparently a "fairly normal" person.

Exactly what set Kazmierczak off — and why he picked his former university and that particular lecture hall — also remained a mystery.