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Six dead in NIU shooting

Police: Gunman shot himself to death
February 12, 2010 10:41:10 AM PST
A gunman who opened fire at a Norhtern Illinois University lecture hall Thursday afternoon -- killing five and injuring more than a dozen people -- shot himself to death, police said. NIU President John Peters said there were 22 casualties in total -- six deaths and 16 injuries.

Four women and two men, including the shooter, died. Four people, including the shooter, died on the scene. Two victims died at the hospital. All of the five victims were undergraduates.

Eighteen victims were sent to hospitals. Most went to Kishwaukee Community Hospital. Six victims, the most critically injured, were transported via helicopter to other hospitals -- three to Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, two to OSF St. Anthony Medical Center in Rockford and one to Rockford Memorial. One man died at St. Anthony.

The current conditions of the other victims were not known. Several were treated and released.

The gunman died of a self-inflected gunshot on the stage of the lecture hall. His body remained in the lecture hall as detectives worked the scene. Police said they know his identity, but are not releasing that information. He was not a student at NIU. He was apparently the only shooter.

"We have no apparent motive at this time," said DeKalb Chief Donald Grady. "It appears to be confined to Cole Hall, but it does not mean that it was."

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The lecture hall, Cole Hall, is a central point on the DeKalb campus, after 3 p.m. One hundred and sixty students were enrolled the class, but it was unclear how many were attending Thursday's lecture. A police scanner alerted officers about a white, male shooter with a shotgun and two handguns. Those weapons have been recovered by police and transferred to the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

"We're acting in a support mode. We're supporting the local officers, the investigating officers, as far as the firearms are concerned. We'll take the information on the firearms and transfer them to Washington to make the history on the firearms," said Tom Ahern, ATF agent.

"This is not uncommon in high-profile shootings," said Ahern. "We maintain the records on all firearms made in this country. We maintain that database."

Students were told to take precautions and stay away from the scene of the shooting.

The first alert was posted on the NIU Web site at 3:20 p.m.: "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."

Past Threats

In December, NIU was closed for one day due to a threat written on a women's restroom that "things will change most hastily" in the final days of the semester.

There is no information connecting the threats of violence in December, which were described as "similar" to Virginia Tech shootings, to Thursday's shooting.

"It definitely is something you think of," said Caitlin Mullen, Northern Star contributing editor, of the December 10, 2007 threat. "One can easily believe it can be connect, but, obviously, nothing is for sure."

Authorities say they believe this was a random act and knew of no other threats.

"I just think this was a different kind of act, that we don't think there was any warning. It seemed spontaneous," said Peters.

But the I-Team received a tip Thursday about another scrawled threat just last week. The father of a students sayd his daughter found a message on a bathroom wall and reported it to university police February 7.

"On the wall was written 'February 7th has ended,' and below that was two dash question marks, dash 08, and below that it was written 'it is going to happen' and the word February had the words F-E-A-R underlined," the student's father explained.

It is uncertain whether the threat in December and the recorded threat last week were made by the former NIU graduate student who murdered allegedly five people.

The university police officer who took the report on last week's threat.declined to comment, and university officials have not returned calls seeking comment.

The Shooter

Peters said the gunman had been a graduate student at the school in the spring of 2007 in sociology but wasn't currently enrolled. The 27-year-old transferred to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign last year. Peters said he did not know where the gunman did his undergraduate studies. He said the man had no police or arrest record while at NIU.

The gunman had been active in student government. And people who knew him said that when they heard the gunman was a tall, skinny sociology major, they said they knew it had to be him but couldn't believe it. Authorities are stil not naming the shooter.

At U of I, the gunman was focusing on peace and social justice with an interest in corrections and prisons, according to his dossier. He was also a 2006 dean's list award winner.

The Victims

A class instructor was reported shot in the attack, and the Associated Press is reporting the instructor is expected to recover.

One of the injured is a former Rolling Meadows High School football player, J.D. Donohue. He said he at first did not realize he was shot as he looked for his girlfriend, who had been sitting next to him before the shooting. He said they found each other as they exited, and that's when he realized he was hit.

One of the students wounded in the Northern Illinois shootings is Ah-Num Rahman. She is a sophomore and was undergoing surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital Thursday night. Her father talked with reporters late Thursday night about her condition.

"She is talking. She's a little in pain because of that but, you know, the doctors have taken care of her at this time and given her medicine and all that so she is a little bit in pain because of the shots and all that, buck shots she got on both arms and the right side of the face," said Wasif Rahman.

The Lake County News-Sun is reporting that another victim is Patrick Korellis, a 22-year-old senior from Lindenhurst who graduated from Antioch High School in 2004, who was shot twice by the gunman.

Dan Parmenter, a 20-year-old sophomore from Elmhurst, Ill., was killed in the attack, his stepfather, Robert Greer, told the Chicago Tribune. He said Parmenter was a business major who was outgoing and had a lot of friends. Parmenter was an advertising representative at the NIU student newspaper, according to Northern Star advisers Jim Killam and Maria Krull.

"I'm not angry," Greer said. "I'm just sad, and I know that right now what I need to do is comfort my wife." A man who answered the telephone at Greer's home declined to speak to The Associated Press.

Friends told the Tribune that Parmenter was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and played rugby for the school's club team.

Joseph Peterson, a 26-year-old graduate student teaching the geology class where the attack occurred, told the Chicago Sun-Times a tall white man dressed in dark clothing appeared about 40 feet away from him and "just started firing away" randomly. Peterson was hospitalized with a shoulder wound. Apparently out of ammunition in his shotgun, Peterson said, the gunman "pulled out a handgun and began shooting at me." He chased the instructor, who escaped out a door. "I never saw him before," he told the Sun-Times. "It was just terrible."

Eyewitness Accounts

Edward Robinson was in the lecture hall when the shooter entered before class started.

"He stood by the door, observing," said Robinson. "He seemed like he knew what he was aiming at. He seemed to be aiming in a general direction."

"He just came in with intent and unloaded his shotgun," said George Gaynor, also in the classroom.

"The gunman came out toward the right side. He was wearing a black beanie, black jeans," said Mike Speek, student. He ran as the shots were fired from the gunman's weapon. "I believe it was pointed, but I didn't hear the shells until a few seconds later."

Kevin Smith said he had just finished a class next door when he heard gunshots.

"Myself and other people at the bus stop started to run to the recreation center across the street," said Smith. "Cole Hall was 10 to 15 steps from my location and the students came running out as if the shooter were going to come out and start shooting again."

"I was actually sitting, waiting for my class in the classroom that has the shooting. All the sudden I heard gunshots. I didn't assume it was a shooting until people started running from the classroom," said Julie Drafall, NIU freshman. "We started sprinting. We ran through the parking lot as quickly as possible."

"I heard about 4 while I was still inside. I still heard shooting as I was running outside. I was trying to run as fast as possible," said Draffal. She said the gunshots sounded like a "pop."

While many students turned to the Internet, others heard the warning over the intercom in his dorm room.

"I was looking at Cole, I live right across in Neptune East," said Kyra Durr, NIU student. She said Cole Hall is where the school has two large lecture halls. "I didn't see anything. By the time I went to the other window, it was already broken."

"I pretty much found out from my neighbor that there was shooting, and we ran outside," said Brandon Green, student. Green's neighbor found out online. "All I've been hearing is the same stuff online. We're pretty much on lockdown."

Students React

Students were in disbelief over what happened on their campus. Some knew someone who was shot, and others didn't. It hit closer to home for some than others, but it is a community that has come together in grief over an occurrence becoming too common on college campuses.

Students gathered outside Stevenson Hall to pray for those who were shot during an afternoon geology class and prayed for their families and the student body as a whole, most of whom who have left campus or were in the process of leaving.

"I wanted to go home, and everybody on my floor is pretty much gone," said Stephanie Bong.

"People are pretty freaked out. Most everybody on my floor is going home, about 95 percent of the people are going home to be with their families," said Matt Kararo.

Students hastily packed their bags, some driving home themselves, others picked up by parents who, in the aftermath of the shooting, struggled just to make sure their students were OK.

"He couldn't get online, and then he came back to his dorm and was online and on a computer," said parent Kent Eberhardt. "One of his friends from home called to say he was fine, and we jumped on the computer and were able to communicate with them."

Some feel safe even while still in shock.

"Everything sunk in when I realized my friend was in there and got shot. My friend, Troy, was shot six times and is in fair condition and will be fine," said Katie Rios.

Most of the students said even though they're leaving now, they will come back, and they applauded the university for their quick response.

"They did the best job possible they could have done with the situation. There's no way you can put metal detectors in everything and security in every building and would drain too many resources. It can happen any time, anywhere," said Aaron Komnick.

Information


Classes have been canceled for the rest of Thursday and Friday. Students are asked to call their parents and are encouraged to take advantage of counselors at the dorms.

Public access to the university was blocked Thursday night.

NIU is 65 miles from Chicago.

Contact Numbers for parents who haven't heard from students:
815. 753.1573

815. 753.6143

815. 753.6174

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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