NIU police chief: No closer to finding motive

February 21, 2008 4:50:09 PM PST
Police investing the deadly shooting rampage last week at Northern Illinois University are not any closer to determining why it happened.

The investigation at the NIU campus in DeKalb, Ill., is almost identical to what occurred almost a year ago at Virginia Tech, the worst-ever campus attack in U.S. history. Similar to VA Tech, the gunman is dead- and no amount of investigation will result in charges against him.

Authorities say Steven Kazmierczak was alone when he stormed the Cole Hall lecture room a week ago Thursday. Northern Illinois University police officials say they have no evidence that anybody else was involved in the planning or execution of the student massacre.

In an exclusive interview, Campus Police Chief Donald Grady says there still open questions that need to be answered.

"It's all about the homework," said Chief Grady. "We continue to investigate and we will follow every lead until we have exhausted everything that is out there."

According to Grady, a mysterious threat found in mid-December on a women's bathroom wall in a dormitory not far from where last week's attack occurred is still under investigation. The NIU threat cited what happened at Virginia Tech last spring when 33 people died.

It asked: "What time? The VA Tech shooters messed up w/ having only one shooter."

Following in different writing, "Things will change most hastily. Tell those blacks to go home."

The threat was followed by shorthand suggesting something would take place December 10th at the Holmes Student Center. Police ordered Northern to close that day, the first time in NIU history a threat forced classes to be canceled. There were no incidents that day.

But with the armed attack last week, authorities are re-evaluating the December threat, even though they don't believe there's a connection.

"The December threat had a very specific victim, it had a very specific place and location and a very specific time. If you take a look at what happened on February 14, the victims do not match the victims that were outlined in this whole thing. It was minorities, certain people identified as victims. We had none of those victims in this case. So we have to believe that if there were a connection we should assume that we would have found some of the victims that he had targeted in that group," said Chief Grady.

Four of the students killed were white and one was Hispanic. When Kazmierczak burst into the science class, he opened fire on the assembly with a Remington shotgun, which he reloaded several times. Shotguns fire a spray of pellets and are not considered effective in singling out specific targets in a crowd from a distance. After firing the shotgun, Kazmierczak used the pistols he hid under his coat.

The DeKalb coroner said all five victims were killed with handgun rounds, not by the initial shotguns blasts. But coroner Dennis Miller says he will not hold an inquest, even though an inquest might be the only public proceeding during which facts and testimony in this case could come out. Coroner Miller says it is obvious what happened and that recent legislation gives coroner discretion on holding inquests.