Police: Santa Monica gunman acted alone

POSTED: 12:54 PM PDT Jun 07, 2013    UPDATED: 01:15 PM PDT Jun 07, 2013 
SANTA MONICA, Calif. -

Police say a gunman who killed four people in Santa Monica before officers shot him dead acted alone, and investigators have released a man who had been detained as a "person of interest."

Sgt. Richard Lewis, a Santa Monica police spokesman, said at a news conference Friday night that the man was questioned and released, and he is not a suspect.

The violence began when the gunman, dressed in all black and wearing what appeared to be a ballistic jacket, opened fire on a house where two bodies were found.

Two officials briefed on the investigation say those two victims were the gunman's father and brother.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the case.

Police said earlier that seven people were killed, including the gunman. But they corrected that to a total of five people late Friday.

Jerry Cunningham Rathner, who lives near the house that caught fire, said she heard gunshots and came out onto her porch to see a man shooting at the residence. Soon, the building erupted in flames and was billowing smoke.

The gunman, dressed in black and wearing an ammunition belt, pointed a rifle at a woman in a car and told her to pull over, Cunningham Rathner said. He then signaled to a second car, also driven by a woman, to slow down and began firing into the vehicle.

"He fired three to four shots into the car — boom, boom, boom, right at her," said Cunningham Rathner, who went to the woman's aid and saw she was wounded in the shoulder.

She said the gunman then abducted the woman in the first car and drove away.

From there, the chaos shifted to Santa Monica College, located among homes and strip malls more than a mile inland from the city's famous Santa Monica Pier, Third Street Promenade and its expansive, sandy beaches.

The two-year college, spread out across 38 acres, has about 34,000 students.

Jimes Gillespie, 20, told The Associated Press he was in the library studying when he heard gunfire, and he and dozens of other students began fleeing the three-story building.

"As I was running down the stairs I saw one of the gunmen," said Gillespie, who described the shooter as a white man in his 20s, wearing cornrows in his hair and black overalls.

As he ran across campus, he said he saw a car in front of the English building that was riddled with bullet holes, had shattered windows and a baby's car seat in the back.

In a staff parking lot, college employee Joe Orcutt said he saw the gunman standing calmly with his weapon, looking as though he was trying to determine which people to shoot at.

"I turn around and that's when he's just standing there, like he's modeling for some ammo magazine," Orcutt said. "He was very calm just standing there, panning around, seeing who he could shoot, one bullet at a time, like target practice."