A lone gunman sprayed bullets from a car in a drive-by shooting in the southern Californian city of Santa Barbara late Friday local time, killing six people before his car crashed and he was found dead inside, according to city officials.
The attack took place near the University of Santa Barbara in Isla Vista neighbourhood, where most of the residents are students.
At a news conference shortly after the attack, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said they had evidence that the shooting was premeditated. "This incident appears to be a mass murder situation," said Brown. "We currently have seven people confirmed dead, that includes the suspect and six victims."
Santa Barbara authorities said the gunman, who has not yet been identified, died after exchanging fire with police. It was not clear whether the fatal wound was self-inflicted or delivered by police.
According to Brown, deputies twice exchanged fire with the gunman before his vehicle crashed and he was found dead inside from a gunshot wound to the head. Authorities recovered a semi-automatic handgun, he added.
Like an ‘old western shootout’
Witnesses reported seeing a black BMW speeding through the streets and spraying bullets at people and other targets in Isla Vista, California's KEYT-TV reported.
Witness Xavier Mozejewski told the station the incident was like an "old western shoot-out."
College student Brad Martin told a student newspaper that his girlfriend was "absolutely hysterical" after being approached by the gunman with a weapon that she initially did not believe to be real.
"She said the next second he raised it up to her face ... and she turned around and started running. That's when she heard 'bang, bang, bang' right behind her as she was running," said Martin.
The violence began and ended within minutes, from 9:27 p.m. when shots were reported to around 10 minutes later when police discovered the body of the suspected gunman, CNN affiliate KEYT-TV said.
Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said "This is a very active and complex investigation involving approximately nine different crime scenes."
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-05-24