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At least six dead in US rampage by black-clad gunman

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LOS ANGELES: At least six people were killed in a shooting rampage in California on Friday before police shot and killed the black-clad gunman in a college library, police said.

Wearing a ballistic vest, the suspect began by burning down a house before a series of “random” shootings and carjackings in Santa Monica — only a few miles from where President Barack Obama was speaking at the time.

One witness described how the gunman, a white male aged 25-30 and carrying an ammunition belt and a semi-automatic rifle, shot a motorist at point-blank range before hijacking another vehicle.

“At this hour, it appears at least a half dozen are dead and as many as two or three are injured,” said Santa Monica police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks, giving a first official account of the rampage.

Asked if she meant six victims dead as well as the black-clad suspect, she said: “As far as I’m aware, yes.”

Another suspect was taken into custody after the shootings, which occurred as Obama was speaking at a political fundraiser a few miles away in the ocean-front city, just west of Los Angeles.

“We are not convinced 100 per cent that the suspect who was killed operated in a solo or lone capacity,” she added.

The incident apparently began with the shootings in a nearby house, which was then set on fire.

A witness who lives opposite the house told KTLA 5 television she heard gunfire and rushed out of her house to see a man who had apparently just opened fire inside or on the house, which was beginning to burn.

“There was a guy standing on the street in front of my house, in full SWAT gear, with a belt full of ammunition and a semi-automatic rifle,” said the woman, who the channel identified as Gerry Cunningham.

She described how he walked to a nearby intersection, “pointed the gun at a woman in a car and told her to pull over, which she did.

“Then the woman behind her in a car, he waved her through with the gun,” she said.

“She kind of hesitated, she kind of slowed down, and he just fired like three or four shots point blank into her in the car,” Cunningham said.

The gunman then carjacked another vehicle, and a short time later opened fire on a bus and other vehicles, before heading into the Santa Monica College, according to media reports.

Nearby schools and campuses were put on lockdown, police said amid confusion over whether an additional gunman could be at large.

It was not immediately clear where all the deceased victims were killed.

In all six people — all women — were taken to two hospitals, including two in critical condition, one of whom died, according to Dr Marshall Morgan, head of emergency medicine at the UCLA Medical Center.

Aerial TV footage of the rampage had shown a black-clad body outside a building in the area, with police standing nearby.

“The subject was shot in the library, and then because it was still an active shooter circumstance, we had to remove the suspect from the line of fire,” said the police chief.

Obama, on his way to a desert summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, was in Santa Monica speaking at a Democratic fundraiser several miles from the scene of the shooting.

The US president, who had been due to fly back to Los Angeles airport, instead went in a motorcade, to avoid any impact on police action around the shootings, staff told a pool reporter traveling with him. AFP

Asad Haroon
A netpreneur, blogger and above all; A Human :) Asad tweets from @aghaasadharoon and can also be approached on Google+

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