OPENS FIRE ON ILL. CAMPUS; 6 DEAD
injured; shooter kills self on stage after targeting students
updated 9:22 p.m. CT, Thurs., Feb. 14, 2008
DEKALB, Ill. - A former graduate student armed with two handguns and a shotgun opened fire Thursday
in a large lecture hall on the campus of Northern Illinois University, killing five students
and wounding 16 others before killing himself, authorities said.
John G. Peters said six students — four women, the shooter and another man — were killed in what he described
as a “very brief, rapid-fire assault.” Sixteen other students were injured by gunfire or flying glass, authorities
All of the victims
were students, including the shooter and the instructor, a graduate teaching assistant, who survived, Peters said. Two of
the survivors were in critical condition Thursday night.
The gunman, who
was not identified, was a former graduate student at NIU but had since enrolled at another college, Peters said. None of the
victims were identified pending notification of their families.
Chief Donald Grady said police knew of no motive for the shooting, which occurred about 3 p.m. CT in an introductory geology
class in an auditorium inside Cole Hall. The campus is in DeKalb, a city of 40,000 in a rural area about 65 miles west of
downtown Chicago. Its enrollment is more than 25,000.
of Rockford, Ill., one of
150 to 200 students in the class when the shooting took place, told NBC affiliate WMAQ that the gunman was a thin white man
wearing a black “beanie” and a black trench coat.
The man entered
the room from behind the instructor and, without saying a word, began shooting from the stage, Sundstrom and other witnesses
said. Firing in the general direction of the students, he emptied a clip of ammunition and calmly reloaded before resuming
walked in and just started shooting at people randomly,” Sundstrom said. “I crawled out to the main aisle, then
just got up and ran and turned around and saw him shooting.”
“I just don’t know why anybody would want to do anything like this.”
Threat closed school in December
NIU was shut down for a day in December after graffiti were scrawled on a restroom wall warning
of a shooting on campus. A spokesman said the warning, which was discovered Dec. 10, made reference to the massacre of 33
people last year at Virginia Tech
University. Peters said Thursday’s shootings were not believed
to be connected with the threat, but he would not rule it out.
president, Charles W. Steger, said Thursday’s events “certainly bring to mind the hurt, pain and trauma we experienced
less than a year ago.” He said he had sent Peters condolences and an offer of assistance.
community was bolstered and comforted by the outpouring of support from campuses around the nation and the world,” Steger
said in a statement. “I am sure that expressions of support from the Virginia Tech community will mean much to that
now suffering campus community.”
In keeping with
a new security system put in place after the Virginia Tech shootings, NIU issued an alert at 3:20 p.m. CT Thursday telling
students to avoid Kings Common and buildings in the area. All activities were canceled until further notice.
Witnesses describe scene of chaos
Cell phone service in the area was overloaded. The university urged all students to send text messages
to their parents to reassure them that they were safe and to aid in accounting for everyone.
David Shaffer got
a call from his stepdaughter, Lisa Mikolajewski, a senior, minutes after the shooting. She told her stepfather she had not
seen the shooting but was calling to let her parents, who live in Phoenix,
know she was unhurt.
along a Facebook message from his stepdaughter, who said she and her boyfriend were safe.
that her boyfriend “saw the shooter after he had been shot.”
(my roommate) was forced into lock down which is why I couldn’t find her. But she sent me a facebook message letting
me know that she is safe and at a close friend’s house. So at least as far as I know my friends are safe. I hope it
stays that way. No one can get a phone call out. So it’s pretty much chaos.”
of DeKalb, who was in DuSable Hall, next to Cole Hall, said he went down to the second floor and discovered a student lying
on the ground.
told us that the man had been shot,” Hamilton told msnbc.com.
“She said he had been shot twice, once in the back and once in the leg. She said he had been dragged over from Cole
“He was breathing,
and everyone was trying to stay calm. They told us not to leave, but I wanted to get home. I left DuSable and walked straight
to my apartment.”
T.J. Johnson told
msnbc.com that Molly’s, an off-campus bar and eatery, filled with people fleeing the shooting.
“In the last
hour and 15 minutes I have seen ambulances from towns up to 30 minutes away rushing towards campus,” he said. “My
phone has been on overload because of phone calls, text messages and voicemails, so it has been hard to contact family and
has gathered here at Molly’s to keep a close watch on what happens outside of our doors through various news stations
and radio. We can only hope for the best for those who have been injured and their families.”
By Alex Johnson
and Elizabeth Chuck of msnbc.com. Jeff Black of msnbc.com and Robert Windrem of NBC News contributed to this report.