3 p.m. update: Gunman identified in NIU shootings; 6 dead
DeKALB — The gunmen in the nation’s fourth-deadliest college campus shooting had a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card, which is required for all Illinois residents who buy or possess firearms, official said Friday. Stephen Kazmierczak, 27, purchased the four guns legally from a federally licensed firearms dealer in Champaign, said Thomas Ahern, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Two of the weapons, a Remington model 870 shotgun and a Glock 9 millimeter pistol, had been picked up by Kazmierczak on Feb. 9 after both the criminal background check and waiting period required by state law. The background check is performed by state police. Ahern said that the database that ATF maintains in Washington showed that Kazmierczak bought the two other guns — Sig Sauer and High Point pistols — from the same shop. Investigators were still determining exactly when that sale took place, Ahern said. Authorities said their investigation revealed Kazmierczak has been acting erratic in recent weeks and had stopped taking medication. In Florida, Polk County sheriff’s officials said they were asked to notify the suspect’s father — Robert Kazmierczak of Lakeland, Fla. — of his son’s death. The elder Kazmierczak briefly came out of his house Friday morning to talk to reporters. “Please leave me alone. ... This is a very hard time for me,” he said as he threw his arms up and wept. He declined further comment about his son and then went back inside his house, saying he was diabetic. The motive of the killer, who graduated from NIU in 2006 but was a student there as recently as last year, was still not known.
10:45 a.m. update: Gunman identified in NIU shooting; 6 dead By Shaw Newspapers DeKALB — NIU University Police Chief Donald Grady said the shooter, Steven Kazmierczak, was an outstanding and award-winning student at NIU. “We had no indications at all that this would be the kind of person who would engage in this kind of activity,” Grady said. Police do not know how long Kazmierczak was on campus prior to the shooting but said they found his car parked close to Cole Hall and said they believe the shooter entered from an outside door that led to the lecture hall stage. Grady said the vehicle was still being examined and said he would not discuss what had been found in the car. Grady said investigators have not found a note written by Kazmierczak and do not believe he spoke or shouted any statements as he fired into the crowd of students. Officials with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said there appears to have been no legal reason to prevent Kazmierczak from obtaining firearms. “The shooter was not prohibited from purchasing firearms, and as far as we know, it was a lawful purchase,” said Special Agent Kevin Cronin of the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Grady praised the cooperation of law enforcement officials and rescue workers for their response. He said the shooting took place at 3:06 p.m. and said two officers were on the scene within 30 seconds. “It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances that no one could have predicted, and nothing could have been done to stop it,” Grady said. University officials said a candlelight vigil has been planned for 9 p.m. Friday on the NIU campus and said they are working on several ways for students and the school community to express their grief and sympathy. President John Peters said he has been strengthened by the resolve of parents who are dealing with the tragedy and said grief counselors from many universities are on hand to work with students. “I’m focused on the NIU family ... our parents and our students to begin the healing process from this tragic instance,” Peters said. “We will get though this together as a community, I am sure.” Peters said NIU and the campus police department had a solid response plan in place for such a tragedy, but he and Grady both stressed that they do not believe the tragedy could have been prevented. “We were dealing with a disturbed individual who intended harm on this campus,” Peters said. “We did everything we could to ensure safety.”
10:15 a.m. update: NIU University Police Chief Donald Grady said police still have no motive for the tragedy and said they have no knowledge of any personal relationship between Kazmierczak and anyone in the class. Investigators have learned that Kazmierczak purchased two of his four weapons -- a 12-gauge Remmington shotgun and a 9mm Glock handgun -- on Feb. 9 in the Champaign-Urbana area near where he was a student . Grady said Kazmierczak has been taking medication, although he declined to say whether Kazmierczak was being treated for mental illness. “Apparently, he had been taking medication,” Grady said. “He had stopped and had become somewhat erratic in the past few weeks.” Investigators still don’t know how many rounds were fired but Grady said they have also recovered 48 shell casings and 6 shotgun shells. He said Kazmierczak did reload his shotgun. The other weapons were SIG Sauer 9 mm handgun, High-Point CF-380 pistol. There were six fatalities, including the gunman, not seven as reported earlier Friday. The victim who was transported to a DuPage County hospital did not die, officials said. Two other victims remained hospitalized at Kishwaukee Community Hospital, said Sharon Emanuelson, a hospital spokeswoman. One of the victims, a male, was listed in good condition and the other victim, a woman, was listed in fair condition early Friday, Emanuelson said. Their names have not been released.