Archive for Friday, February 15, 2008

Gunman kills 5, self in class at Northern Illinois University

February 15, 2008


In this photo provided by the student-run Northern Star newspaper, rescue workers carry an unidentified victim from the scene of a shooting at a lecture hall Thursday at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. A man dressed in black opened fire with a shotgun, killing five students from a stage of a lecture hall before he killed himself. The campus remains closed today.

In this photo provided by the student-run Northern Star newspaper, rescue workers carry an unidentified victim from the scene of a shooting at a lecture hall Thursday at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. A man dressed in black opened fire with a shotgun, killing five students from a stage of a lecture hall before he killed himself. The campus remains closed today.

— Without saying a word, a gunman dressed in black opened fire in a Northern Illinois University geology class Thursday, killing five students and wounding 16. He fired at random, authorities said, until the moment he killed himself.

Students screamed and crawled on their bellies to escape the auditorium in Cole Hall as bullets and buckshot flew. The gunman, a former graduate student in sociology, carried a shotgun and two handguns. Police said he volunteered no motive before he died.

"It started and it stopped very, very quickly," the university's police chief, Donald Grady, said. "This thing started and ended in a matter of seconds."

Although the gunman carried identification from another college in the state, Northern Illinois President John G. Peters declined to identify him or the four women and one man who died. Four other students remained in critical condition at local hospitals. The class instructor, a graduate student, was wounded but is expected to recover, officials said.

Lessons learned

Late Thursday, with state troopers stationed at all campus entrances, administrators said they were confident that Cole Hall was the sole crime scene. They dismissed the suggestion that the shooting was connected to an incident of threatening graffiti that closed the campus, located 65 miles west of Chicago, in December.

Amid scenes that echoed the April 2007 assault at Virginia Tech by a student who left 32 people dead, Northern Illinois authorities said campus police were on the scene within three minutes. Within about 20 minutes, the school sent e-mail alerts instructing the university community to "get to a safe area and take precautions."

The all-clear was issued at 4:14 p.m.

"This is a tragedy, but from all indications we did everything we could when we found out," Peters said. "We've put in place so many security measures, and we're reviewing them all the time. Unless you locked every door, I don't know how you really keep people out. I don't know of any plan that can prevent this kind of tragedy."

Today's classes canceled

After the Virginia Tech killings, which took place in two campus locations, a state review panel criticized university administrators for not taking quicker action in shutting down the campus, saying it might have reduced casualties.

Peters announced that classes and activities would be canceled at the 25,000-student university today. He urged people to stay away from campus for now, although the dormitories remain open.

The gunman emerged about 3 p.m. from an entrance at the front of a large lecture hall near the end of a 75-minute introductory geology class, according to the university's account. He carried a shotgun and two pistols.

He began firing.

"He was quiet. He stood on the stage in the front of the room," student Sheila Cosgrove told Chicago radio station WBBM, describing him as a lean, tall white man. "I saw him holding the gun and it was huge. I thought it was fake, and then I realized he was actually shooting at people, and I got down."

Students recall scene

A student seated behind her was shot, Cosgrove said. Terrified, she crawled down an aisle to get to the door, soaking her jeans in blood, and scrambled out of the building. Emerging into a winter afternoon, she had left behind her coat, wallet and cell phone. She ran with a crowd of fleeing people toward the student center, she said.

George Gaynor, another student in the room, described the scene to the campus newspaper Northern Star, calling the scene terrifying and chaotic.

"Some girl got hit in the eye; a guy got hit in the leg," Gaynor said.

The gunman was "shooting at random, it would appear, into a group of people and not targeting anyone," university spokeswoman Melanie Magara told reporters at an evening news conference.

The gunman killed himself before he had used up his ammunition, officials said.

"Campus police report that the immediate danger has passed," read an e-mail from the university to the campus community. "The gunman is no longer a threat."

Panic grips campus

Even though the bloodshed was confined to Cole Hall, fear and panic spread through nearby buildings during and immediately after the shooting spree.

"People were running at me and screaming and freaking out," said Angela Siener, 24, a first-year law student who had just walked out of the building about 100 yards from Cole Hall. "They were saying there was a shooter. I decided not to go to the parking garage, because it didn't seem safe, so I went back into the law library and we were locked in for, like, two hours."

Inside the library, more than 50 students gathered around computers. They searched for news and to send messages to friends and relatives, and also tried to use their mobile telephones.

University officials closed the school for a day in early December and rescheduled some final exams after students found two separate threats scrawled on a bathroom wall in a residence hall. Authorities said today that the graffiti was not a credible threat, but Peters assessed it differently at the time.

"Events of the past several days remind all of us that community is more than a word," Peters said at the time, "and that threats against a group are a threat to us all."


bondmen 10 years, 3 months ago

As Paul Huebl (a former Chicago cop) points out

Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, IL--Illinois politicians gave Mayor Richard M. Daley what he wanted. They made it a felony crime for a law abiding citizen even those holding valid Firearm Owner Identification Cards to carry a handgun for simple self-protection.

They've known for a long time that violent criminals and the mentally deranged never let gun laws or Gun Free Zones stop them from committing all manner of carnage. They also know it's an extremely rare day when dangerous criminals have met any requirements to get gun permits even under the most permissive systems.

Illinois Politicians have made the entire state a Gun Free Zone, at least on paper. Again the result was to provide some whack-job the softest possible target to kill innocent victims and get himself or herself some major media face time. The politicians know these facts only too well and continue with their politics of victimization anyway.

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 3 months ago

Would someone in the lecture hall with concealed carry have lowered the death toll? Quite possibly.

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 3 months ago

I'll be curious to see if this stuff ever happens at Utah University. The Supreme Court of Utah ruled that legal concealed carry on the university is a student's right.

Settingthe.....yep, perhaps. We have no comparison, though. All we know of these shootings is that the killer takes their time then their own life.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 3 months ago

"Would someone in the lecture hall with concealed carry have lowered the death toll? Quite possibly."

It's possible. But on the other hand, a concealed weapon has to be a small gun. If the person was a really good shot in a stressful situation, then they might have stopped him. But if they missed or slightly wounded the gunman, he might have kept shooting longer before killing himself. It's all rhetorical now. I'd like to know what makes a person even consider doing something like this.

beatrice 10 years, 3 months ago

"We are reaping what the left has sowed."

Yawn. Sometimes, stupid doesn't warrant much of a response.

This is another sad story of needing to pry a school book from the cold dead hands of yet another student.

But lets dare not look at the system that allows a wacko such as this to get his hands on a gun in the first place. Oh no. Just like we never look at drinking and the effects it might have on driving, or requiring people to prove their competance behind the wheel before we give them the rights to drive.

Oh, wait, we do require licenses, and insurance for drivers, and can take away that right from people. Why can't we look what can be done to keep the guns out of the wackos' hands? Clearly, what we are doing isn't working as well as it should.

The attempts to stop drunken driving haven't stopped drunks from driving, but there are fewer cases than before because of changes in laws. There needs to be something that can be done to help prevent this tragic thing from happening again.

Or maybe I'm wrong, and Pandora's box has been opened and there is no way to close the box. I just hate the thought of giving up hope that something can be done, while still allowing law abiding citizens the right to carry. Perhaps nothing can be. It is just sad.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 3 months ago

MrValues So don't blame the psycho, blame the liberals. All the liberals I know are peace loving non-violent people. Why does that inspire violence?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 3 months ago

So it's left wing politics that made this guy shoot people and himself? Maybe it was Clinton's fault?

Robert bickers 10 years, 3 months ago

"But lets dare not look at the system that allows a wacko such as this to get his hands on a gun in the first place."

I don't know if he bought his weapons legally or not, but criminals intent on murder certainly don't care about the legality of their firearms.

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 3 months ago

logicsound04 (Anonymous) says: More often than not, the best solution in quick, chaotic situations like this is to 1) fend for yourself instead of playing hero, and 2) run and/or take cover.

logic., and this pretty well sums up the premise behind concealed carry. You are absolutely correct.

geekin_topekan 10 years, 3 months ago

Strict gun control laws and a tight border would have prevented NIU,Omaha and VA Tech. Americans are continuing to demonstrate that gun laws are far too liberal. Oh yeah,a handgun totin' fool thought that his piece made him a contender against my uncle.If he hadn't pulled it out to wave like a false set of testacles he may be alive today.He lived long enough to pull a couple of shots off in my direction then silenced forever.Idiot.A gun doesn't make you safer and it certainly doesn't make you right. Earn the respect from yourself and others that you think that a CC will give you and you will not find one necessary.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 3 months ago

So, madmike and mrvalues, you tell us not to blame the society, parents, the lax gun laws, etc, (which I agree with), but to blame the wacko. Then you turn it around and blame liberals. So can't you see the hypocrisy. It's the guys fault. He was mentally ill. He was probably influenced by the other wackos that have been shooting people. But it's his mental illness sending him over the edge. The reason there is a rash of these kinds of crimes is because the mentally ill are susceptible to copy cat behavior, so unfortunately be prepared for more of the same.

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