By Andrew Stern
CHICAGO (Reuters) - A man opened fire with a shotgun in a crowded lecture hall at Northern Illinois University on Thursday, wounding at least 17 people before killing himself, authorities said.
Witnesses said terrified students, some of them bleeding profusely from neck and other wounds after being hit by buckshot, fled the classroom after the gunman began shooting seemingly at random from near the front of the room.
"Some girl got hit in the eye, a guy got hit in the leg," George Gaynor, a student who was in the hall told the Northern Star, the student newspaper on the campus.
He said "a skinny white guy with a stocking cap on" began shooting about five minutes before a class on ocean science was to have ended. Another witness said the man suddenly appeared at the front of the auditorium carrying a shotgun and perhaps another weapon and began firing into the audience and at the teacher.
Within two hours of the shooting police said the area had been secured. They said the gunman had killed himself.
"Campus police report that the immediate danger has passed," the Web site of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb said on its Web site. "The gunman is no longer a threat."
A hospital near the campus said 17 people had been treated for gunshot wounds.
One student told local radio that roughly 140 students were in the classroom when the man opened fire. Ambulances swarmed onto the 25,000-student campus, which is 65 miles west of downtown Chicago, and classes were canceled, the university said on its Web site.
One male student said he was sitting in the class, taking notes when the gunman entered from behind a curtain, firing a shotgun. "He was just shooting, and people were screaming."
Kristina Balluff, a student, said the gunman was dressed in black pants, shirt, and was wearing some sort of mask. He came onto the classroom stage, which is elevated above where the students sit, and began firing.
"I looked at this girl next to me and actually said, 'is this real?' I think the professor ... ducked out of the way."
U.S. schools and colleges have suffered a series of shooting incidents in recent years.
A university in Blacksburg, Virginia, Virginia Tech, became the site of the deadliest rampage in U.S. history in April last year when a gunman killed 32 people and himself.
(Reporting by Andrew Stern and Michael Conlon; Editing by Stuart Grudgings)
BELLEVUE, Wash., Feb 12, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The Second Amendment Foundation has filed an amicus curiae brief in District of Columbia v Heller, the appeal of the landmark case that overturned the district's handgun ban on the grounds that it unconstitutionally violates the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
Written by attorney Nelson Lund at the George Mason University School of Law, the brief has already earned praise of veteran Second Amendment authority David Kopel, who noted in remarks on a popular Second Amendment website, "If you want to read a model Supreme Court brief, this is the brief to read."
In the brief, Lund notes that the Second Amendment right of the people to keep and bear arms would remain even if the militia were disbanded.
"Our 48-page brief is tightly written, and it refutes the contentions by anti-gunners that the Second Amendment only protects some right of the states to maintain militias," said SAF founder Alan Gottlieb. "The brief, which can be read on our website at www.saf.org, gets right to the heart of this case. We also note that the opposition arguments are absurd, and explain why."
SAF's brief further reminds the court that "In liberal theory, the most fundamental of all rights is the right of self defense." It also notes that "the people" referred to in the Second Amendment "has always been a much larger body of individuals than the militia."
"Congress cannot abolish this constitutional right of the people by abolishing the militia," notes Lund in the brief. "Neither can the right be limited to contexts in which its exercise contributes to the functioning of an organized militia that Congress is not even required to maintain."
"While anti-gun extremists are beating drums about the downfall of civilization if the high court upholds the individual right," Gottlieb stated, "we believe that the time has come for the Second Amendment to take its place as the Constitution's insurance policy against tyranny and as our guardian against unjust laws that leave us defenseless against a growing criminal element."
The Second Amendment Foundation is the nation's oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 600,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.
SOURCE Second Amendment Foundation
The shooter, a thin white male dressed in black and wearing a stocking cap, went into Cole Hall on the campus in DeKalb, entered a science class through an emergency door and began shooting at students and a teacher, the Washington Post reported, citing accounts on a local radio station and in the student newspaper.
The 25,000-student campus, about 65 miles west of Chicago, was closed immediately after the shootings and classes were cancelled for the remainder of Thursday and all of Friday, according to reports.
NIU campus police chief Donald Grady confirmed the four victims' deaths following a news conference, Associated Press reported. The dead students and the gunman weren't immediately identified.
Brady said the gunman wasn't a student at the school and that police had no apparent motive, AP reported.
Grady told reporters the gunman apparently had a shotgun and two handguns, including a Glock, but that only one of the handguns was immediately recovered, the Post reported. He said the shooter, who appeared to have been acting alone, had not expended all of his ammunition, according to the Post report.
It wasn't immediately known if the four students died in the classroom or at an area hospital, nor was it known if any of the other wounded students had life-threatening injuries.
The university initially reported 18 students were injured, four critically, and taken to a local hospital, according to media reports. According to an alert posted on a university Web site nearly two hours after the shooting, eight of the victims were in stable condition and six others were in good condition.
The shooting occurred about 3 p.m., according to reports.
NIU was closed for a day during final exams in December after campus police discovered racial slurs and references to last year's shooting at Virginia Tech University scrawled on a bathroom wall in a dormitory.
In a Dec. 11 message to all students, NIU President John G. Peters said the graffiti was considered a "credible threat," the Post reported. "Events of the past several days remind all of us that community is more than a word, and that threats against a group are a threat to us all," Peters wrote.
Peters said school officials had ordered a police presence around all final exam sites after the campus reopened, according to the Post report.
In April, a student named Seung-Hui Cho rampaged across the Virginia Tech campus, killing 33 people before shooting and killing himself.
The NIU shooting was the fourth at a U.S. school within a week.
On Feb. 8, a woman killed two students before shooting and killing herself at Louisiana Tech in Baton Rouge. On Monday, a high school student in Memphis, Tennessee was charged with first-degree murder after he allegedly shot fellow student during gym class. And on Tuesday a 15-year-old was shot at a junior high school in Oxnard, California, and was later declared brain dead.
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Russ Britt is the Los Angeles bureau chief for MarketWatch.