OAKLAND, Calif., (Reuters) – A gunman opened fire at a private Christian college in Oakland, California today, killing at least seven people and wounding three others before a suspect, reportedly a former student, was taken into custody, authorities said.
Oakland city officials said they believed the gunman had acted alone in the mid-morning shooting at Oikos University but did not immediately identify him and declined to offer a motive for the rampage.
The school’s founder, Pastor Jong Kim, told the Oakland Tribune newspaper the man arrested at a shopping mall about five miles (eight km) from the scene had previously been a nursing student there, but was no longer enrolled. Kim said he heard about 30 gunshots.
Oakland police spokesman Johnna Watson said seven people had been killed and three others wounded.
Images from local TV stations showed frightened students and staff running from the school, located in a light industrial area near Oakland International Airport, as police and SWAT teams carrying assault rifles surrounded the area.
Hours later, two bodies remained on a grassy area outside the school, covered by yellow plastic sheeting.
Agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were also on the scene, along with dozens of local police.
Angie Johnson, 52, told the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper she was doing errands nearby when she saw a young woman run from the college with a bloodied right arm, crying “I’ve been shot, I’ve been shot.”
Johnson said the wounded woman told her the shooter was a man in her nursing class who shot one person at point blank range before spraying the room with bullets.
Nearby business were evacuated immediately following the rampage and shut down for the day as officers searched the school and surrounding area. A spokeswoman for nearby Highland Memorial Hospital declined to comment on the condition of the victims being treated there.
“As you may have heard, the suspected shooter in today’s deadly shooting at Oikos University on Edgewater Drive is in custody, and it appears he acted alone,” the city said in a brief statement.
“The surrounding area is still cordoned off, but police have advised that no imminent public safety threat appears to exist in the immediate area,” it said.
The shooting came just over a month after a student gunman in Ohio opened fire in a high school cafeteria, killing three students in the deadliest shooting rampage at a U.S. high school in six years.
Oikos, which offers programs in theology, nursing, music and Asian medicine, describes itself on its website as having been started to provide the “highest standard education with Christian value and inspiration.”