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Image: Emergency personnel respond to a shooting at an IHOP restaurant
Cathleen Allison  /  AP
Emergency personnel respond to a shooting at an IHOP restaurant in Carson City, Nev. on Tuesday.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 9/7/2011 12:58:37 AM ET 2011-09-07T04:58:37

A man armed with an AK-47 assault rifle shot five uniformed National Guard members eating breakfast at a restaurant in Nevada's capital on Tuesday, killing three of them and another person in a hail of gunfire, authorities and witnesses said.

The suspect, who police say acted alone, also shot himself and later died at a hospital. He was identified as 32-year-old Eduardo Sencion of Carson City, Sheriff Kenny Furlong said.

Eight other people were wounded in the attack. One of the Guard members killed was a man; the other was a woman, authorities said. A second female Guard member died after surgery at an area hospital, Furlong confirmed in a media release late Tuesday night. Two other Guard members were at local hospitals, NBC News reported.

The motive for the shootings remains unclear.

Image: Driver's license photograph of Eduardo Sencion who has been identified as the gunman in the IHOP restaurant shooting in Carson City, Nevada
Carson City Sheriff
Suspect Eduardo Sencion in his driver's license photograph.

Sencion worked at a family business in nearby South Lake Tahoe, Calif., and had no known affiliations with anyone at the restaurant, Furlong said.

Sencion's family had raised concerns about his mental health in interviews with investigators, Furlong said. He did not elaborate.

Nevada National Guard spokeswoman April Conway said there's no indication the shooter had any connection with the Guard. The restaurant is about four miles from the Guard's headquarters complex.

Investigators found another rifle and a pistol in the minivan that Sencion drove to the restaurant, police said.

Witnesses said the gunman pulled up in a blue minivan around 9 a.m. and shot a man on a motorcycle, then walked inside the restaurant and started shooting. He then walked outside and fired shots at a barbecue restaurant and an H&R Block in the strip mall, and a casino across the street.

Image: Officers look through a bullet-damaged window of an IHOP restaurant
Cathleen Allison  /  AP
A bullet-damaged window of the IHOP restaurant in Carson City, Nev.

"I don't know what's happening to my city," Fran Hunter, who works at a Sierra Le Bone, a pet shop just north of the IHOP, told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "This happens in L.A. or Las Vegas but not here."

Police were interviewing more than 100 witnesses to the shooting, KRNV TV reported.

Furlong said police were trying to determine whether the rifle involved in the shooting is automatic or semi-automatic.

Officers received a call about the gunfire and responded within minutes, Furlong said. He said the suspect was wounded and lying in the parking lot when they arrived at the scene.

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Furlong added the person who was shot on the motorcycle also was alive when officers arrived, and was transported to a hospital.

The state Capitol and Supreme Court buildings were locked down for about 40 minutes, and extra security measures were put in place at state and military buildings in northern Nevada following the shooting.

"There were concerns at the onset, so we took certain steps to ensure we had the capability to embrace an even larger circumstance," Furlong said. "At this point in time it appears to be isolated to this parking lot."

"As you know when you have people in uniform who are randomly targeted for whatever reason this may have been, it is a safety precaution we take very seriously," said Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Chuck Allen.

Renown Regional Medicare Center spokesman Dan Davis told The Associated Press four victims of the shooting were being treated at the hospital in Reno, but he said he could not discuss their condition or provide any other information.

Kurt Althof, public relations manager for Care Flight, told the Gazette-Journal three victims had been taken to the hospital by helicopter and that two were in critical condition.

Ralph Swagler, owner of another restaurant near the IHOP told the Reno Gazette-Journal that he witnessed the shooting. Swagler said he saw a man wearing a red shirt and black shorts pull up to the IHOP in a blue minivan. The man then pulled out a rifle and shot a man on a motorcycle, then walked inside IHOP and started shooting, Swagler told the newspaper.

The man then fired several shots at other businesses in the area, including the Locals Barbecue and the H&R Block.

"This happens in Third-World countries, not here," Swagler, owner of Locals Barbecue, told the newspaper.

Local and state police and FBI agents descended on the scene on the main street in the state capital, also called U.S. 395. Yellow tape surrounded the parking lot near a Kohl's department store in a shopping complex across the street from a casino and hotel.

"We just heard basically a string of gunshots, probably 5 to 7 back to back to back to back and then there was probably 30 second delay then an automatic weapon fired, probably 20 to 30 shots," said Gary Gamba, general sales manager at Michael Hohl Motors, which is across the street from the IHOP.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., released a statement expressing condolences to the victims' families.

"I'm deeply saddened by this senseless act and extend my sympathies to those afflicted this morning," Reid said. "I applaud the first responders for their professionalism, and my thoughts are with the victims and their families during this difficult time."

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., posted on Twitter that his heart and prayers go out to the victims' friends and families. And state Sen. Ben Kieckhefer tweeted: "My God be with the families of those hurt and killed in the senseless violence today in Carson City."

In the wake of the shootings, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in the state until Friday.

At the briefing, he was joined by Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell.

"Mayor Crowell and I wish to extend our sympathies to the victims of today's tragedy and their families," Governor Sandoval said. "The Mayor and I also want to assure all Nevadans and especially residents of Carson City that everything is being done to ensure the public's safety. All authorities on the local, state and federal level are cooperating effectively and appropriately."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: Nevada shooter may have targeted military

  1. Closed captioning of: Nevada shooter may have targeted military

    >>> news, a shooting in carson city , nevada. nine people were shot with an automatic weapon and three confirmed dead . two of those killed were national guardsmen who were in uniform, and another victim died during surgery and the gunmen turned the weapon on himself and he is currently in the hospital, but he is not expected to live. the motive is still unknown at this point, and less than a half hour from now the police plan to hold a news conference to release details of what happened there. the carson city sheriff ken furlong is joining us now. what can you tell us at least what witnesses say happened out there?

    >> the witnesses called in prior to 9:00 this morning saying that a man was in the parking lot at an international house of pancakes house here in carson city with an automatic weapon and shooting people . early on, we were informed that at least five persons had been shot. that toll has gone up to nine, i believe at this point in time. the suspect would be an additional person and appears as though a self-inflicted wound took him to the ground. when officers arrived, there were victims of the shooting across the parking lot and throughout the restaurant.

    >> do you know anymore about this individual's identity or motive or any details relating to that?

    >> we don't have any details on the positive identity of the shooter. we believe we know who it is, but it is currently still being investigated.

    >> all right.

    >> the i will note for you as you are very well aware that many of the victims were national guard persons at the restaurant at the time in uniform.

    >> do we know that he targeted them? since you bring up that part of the story, we know that two are confirmed dead at the scene, and do you know if he targeted the national guardsmen ?

    >> i believe most of the deceased are military persons, and that is still being processed. i have to note for you that six, i believe, are in surgery right now, and a seventh person that was in surgery has passed away. so, and your questions are begging an ongoing.

    >> thank you, sheriff, we know you are very busy and thank you for coming on to give us an update. and two of othose killed in the shooting spree were national guardsmen in uniform and we will have much more in the latest on that, but this shooting happening in carson city , nevada.

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