CARSON CITY, Nev | Wed Sep 7, 2011 5:48am EDT
(Reuters) – A man with an assault rifle opened fire at a pancake house in Nevada’s capital on Tuesday, killing three National Guard soldiers and a civilian and wounding seven others before killing himself, authorities said.
The gunman, in what investigators said appeared to be a random burst of violence by a grocery worker with a history of mental illness, opened fire at a group of uniformed Army National Guard troops as they ate breakfast.
Besides the three Guard soldiers — two men and a woman — who were shot to death at the Carson City IHOP restaurant, two of the wounded were also active-duty Guard members. A civilian woman in the line of fire between the gunman and soldiers was killed as well.
Carson City Sheriff Kenneth Furlong told reporters that the fact that five of the 11 people shot were military was a “cause for concern”.
But he and other officials said there was no sign that the gunman, a Mexican-born U.S. citizen, knew anyone at the restaurant or had singled out members of the military before he entered the IHOP.
“At this time, the investigation has not shown any links to terrorism or militant groups,” FBI special agent Patrick Turner said in a statement. “We do not believe the National Guard soldiers were targeted specifically, however, that is still under investigation.”
The bloodshed began just before 9 a.m. local time when the gunman walked into the restaurant and began shooting, according to a chronology of events released by the sheriff’s department on Tuesday night. Ten of the victims were shot inside.
One of the wounded was shot in the parking lot, where the rampage culminated moments later with the gunman shooting himself in the head, authorities said.
The suspect, identified as Eduardo Sencion, 32, was pronounced dead later at an area hospital.
Several of the wounded were undergoing surgery at two local hospitals, but details of their conditions were not immediately available. Furlong said three did not appear to have sustained life-threatening injuries.
NO WRITINGS BY GUNMAN
FBI special agent Mike West said investigators had yet to find any Internet postings or other writings left by the gunman, who authorities said worked for his family-run grocery business in South Lake Tahoe, California.
Sencion has no prior criminal record, but “his family has indicated that he has a history of mental illness,” the sheriff said.
In addition to the weapon used in the shooting, described as a variant of an AK-47 assault rifle, Furlong said a second rifle and a pistol were found in the gunman’s vehicle.
The state capitol, legislature and Supreme Court buildings were locked down for about an hour shortly after the shooting as a precaution.
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval ordered flags flown at half-staff until Friday at dusk in honor of the National Guardsmen who were killed.
Fran Hunter, 64, who works at Sierra Le Bone, a pet shop near the IHOP, was having breakfast across the street when the shooting occurred, and was so shaken she returned to her own business and locked the doors.
“You read about this happening in big cities, but not in our little town,” she told Reuters.
The sheriff said he believed Tuesday’s violence marked the largest single shooting in the history of Carson City.