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Gunman at Northern Illinois University Kills Five, Wounds 16

February 15, 2008  | 

Yesterday Northern Illinois University in DeKalb joined the long and growing list of American campuses bloodied by active shooters.

Shortly after 3 p.m., a gunman identified by police as former NIU graduate student Stephen Kazmierczak stepped out of the shadows at the front of a large lecture hall and opened fire on a packed oceanography class with a shotgun and two handguns. Five students were killed and 16 wounded. The gunman killed himself before police could respond.

University officials say that campus police officers reacted to the shooting two minutes after the first shots.

Victims killed in the massacre have been identified as: Daniel Parmenter, 20; Catalina Garcia, 20; Ryanne Mace, 19; Julianna Gehant, 32, and Gayle Dubowski, 20.

At 3:20 p.m., the university posted a message on its Website telling students there had been a shooting on campus and that they should "get to a safe area." Most students already knew what was happening via text messages and phone calls from their friends. The all-clear was given by campus officials about an hour later.

The alleged gunman was an award-winning scholar who had left campus last spring. The Chicago Tribune and other media sources have reported that he may have stopped taking medication and was acting erratically before the shooting. At presstime, the reason that the accused gunman was on medication had not been revealed.

Witnesses told local media that the gunman, dressed in all black, broke into the large lecture hall through a side door behind the stage. He then emerged from behind the hall's projection screen firing a shotgun from the hip. He was also armed with two handguns. Investigators have recovered 48 casings and six spent shotgun shells at the scene.

Federal firearms agents say that the alleged gunman purchased the weapons legally about nine days earlier in the central Illinois town of Champaign.

About 25,000 students are enrolled at Northern Illinois University. Classes have been canceled indefinitely, but the dorms are open, and the campus has not been locked down.

NIU was also closed during final exam week in December after campus police found racial slurs and threats painted on a bathroom wall in a dormitory. The graffiti also referenced the Virginia Tech massacre last April in which 32 students and teachers were killed by an active shooter. Campus police do not believe there was a connection between this shooting and the graffiti, which shut down the campus for one day.

Alleged gunman Kazmierczak was a sociology grad student who specialized in criminal justice research. He won an award for his research into inmate self-injury in American prisons.

Investigators have not discovered a motive for the shootings.

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Comments (3)

Displaying 1 - 3 of 3

ROB ROY @ 2/16/2008 12:32 AM

This is just another horrible example of a GUN FREE ZONE that should be called A FREE FIRE ZONE. If there had been just one student or teacher with a concealed weapons permit this could have been stopped before anyone had gotten hurt. It just tears me up to see law abiding citizens made defensless by idiots. All those kids and thier family's will be in my prayer's.

hahagobangbang @ 2/16/2008 8:11 PM

This was an informative article. How do we prevent this kind of tragedy? Are we to, for lack of a better word, accept this as we do drownings, burn victims, fatal auto accidents, etc? I am passionate about protecting the law abiding citizens right to own firearms and even protect themselves if needed. We simply cannot be there all the time to prevent crime as we all know. Hopefully, we all realize the bad guys don't follow the laws on the books as it is. As I understand it The Dept. of Justice numbers on law abiding citizens using deadly force to prevent a violent crime such as rape, murder, etc come to 1.5 million times annually or about 6,000 times daily. Ninety-two percent of these 1.5 million times law abiding citizens use deadly force to prevent their demise, merely brandishing the weapon halts the crime. I'd say those statistics speak for themselves. So, where does that leave us?

fack164 @ 3/4/2008 8:57 PM

Without question, we in the U.S. are in the middle of an epidemic. Funds now exist for beefing up campus police and in training law enforcement personnel in responding to an active shooter. Money is also being spent for the 100 pound minds to detect patterns in students to possibly detect violent behavior in individuals and treat accordingly. I believe that these are steps in the right direction, however, it is not enough. More must be done to ready the educators and student body on critical incident response. I am currently a security consultant in the private sector. However, I am a former police officer, government agent in protective operations and former SEAL. The fact is, a campus can have a hundred highly trained law enforcement personnel trained in active shooter incidents, standing by and they will still not be able to respond in sufficient time to stop a motivated shooter from gaining access and targeting unarmed students and faculty. After the Virginia Tech shooting, several local Virginia Universities were contacted and offered free seminars to the faculty members and students on responding to a critical incident such as an active shooter. The response was that they were increasing their law enforcement entities on the campuses. And advised that any seminars given to students or faculty would negatively impact the emissions to the given university. The fact is that there are steps that faculty and students can take to better their chances of survival during a shooting incident. There exist a short window for the victims of these incidents to respond. Only with critical incident training can an individual positively trigger their flight or flight instincts and take appropriate measures to respond to such an incident. Give the victims the tools to respond to these type of incidents and perhaps

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