Death toll rises to 7 in Northern Illinois shootings
DEKALB, Ill. -- Another student shot at a Northern Illinois University lecture hall has died, raising the toll to seven, including the gunman, who had graduated from the school and had been considered a good student, officials said Friday.
The motive of the shooter, who graduated from NIU in 2006, was not known, officials said. The gunman also wounded 15 people and sent panicked students fleeing for the exits before killing himself.
"There is no note or threat that I know of," NIU President John Peters said on Friday ABC's "Good Morning America." "By all accounts that we can tell right now (he) was a very good student that the professors thought well of."
DeKalb County Coroner Dennis J. Miller on Friday released the identities of the four victims who died in his county: Daniel Parmenter, 20, of Westchester; Catalina Garcia, 20, of Cicero; Ryanne Mace, 19, of Carpentersville; and Julianna Gehant, 32, of Meridan.
Two other victims died after being transferred to hospitals in other counties, Miller said in a news release. Winnebago County Coroner Sue Fiduccia on Friday said a female victim died in her county but has not been identified pending notification of family. An autopsy was planned for Friday, she said.
Witnesses said the gunman, dressed in black and wearing a stocking cap, emerged from behind a screen on the stage of 200-seat Cole Hall and opened fire just as the class was about to end around 3 p.m.
Officials said 162 students were registered for the class but it was unknown how many were there Thursday.
Allyse Jerome, 19, a sophomore from Schaumburg, said the gunman burst through a stage door and pulled out a gun.
"Honestly, at first everyone thought it was a joke," Jerome said. Everyone hit the floor, she said. Then she got up and ran, but tripped. She said she felt like "an open target."
"He could've decided to get me," Jerome said Friday. "I thought for sure he was gonna get me."
The shooter had been a graduate student in sociology at Northern Illinois as recently as spring 2007, but was not currently enrolled at the 25,000-student campus, University President John Peters said.
Authorities did not release the gunman's name, but Peters said he had no record of police contact or an arrest record while attending Northern Illinois, about 65 miles west of Chicago.
The Chicago Tribune, citing two unidentified law enforcement sources, reported Friday that the gunman was a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Lauren Carr said she was sitting in the third row when she saw the shooter walk through a door on the right-hand side of the stage, pointing a gun straight ahead.
"I personally Army-crawled halfway up the aisle," said Carr, a 20-year-old sophomore. "I said I could get up and run or I could die here."
She said a student in front of her was bleeding, "but he just kept running."
"I heard this girl scream, 'Run, he's reloading the gun!"'
More than a hundred students cried and hugged as they gathered outside the Phi Kappa Alpha house early Friday morning to remember Dan Parmenter, the 20-year-old sophomore from Elmhurst, who was one of those killed.
"I'm not angry," his stepfather, Robert Greer, told the Chicago Tribune. "I'm just sad, and I know that right now what I need to do is comfort my wife."
All classes were canceled Thursday night and the campus was closed on Friday. Students were urged to call their parents "as soon as possible" and were offered counseling at any residence hall, according to the school Web site.
The school was closed for one day during final exam week in December after campus police found threats, including racial slurs and references to shootings earlier in the year at Virginia Tech, scrawled on a bathroom wall in a dormitory. Police determined after an investigation that there was no imminent threat and the campus was reopened. Peters said he knew of no connection between that incident and Thursday's attack.