In a series of violent confrontations Friday, a gunman with a semi-automatic rifle killed four people and wounded at least five others before being shot dead by police inside the Santa Monica College library, police said.
The suspect had a duffel bag loaded with 1,300 rounds of ammunition and extra weaponry, Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks told reporters Saturday. Such an arsenal points to a planned attack, she said.
"Any time someone puts on a vest, of some sort, comes out with a bag full of loaded magazines, has an extra receiver, has a handgun and has a semi-automatic rifle, carjacks folks, goes to a college, kills more people and has to be neutralized at the hands of the police, I would say that that's premeditated," said Seabrooks.
Seabrooks added that the gunman had a previous encounter with the police seven years ago, but she couldn't elaborate because the suspect was a juvenile when the incident occurred.
Seabrooks did not identify the killer because his next of kin is out of the country, but she said he would have turned 24 on Saturday.
Santa Monica Police Sgt. Richard Lewis said in a news briefing late Friday that a lone gunman carried out the shootings, which resulted in nine crime scenes that spanned several blocks.
"It's a horrific event everyone wishes didn't happen," Lewis told the press.
Lewis also confirmed a "person of interest," who was taken into custody earlier in the day, "has been released and is not a suspect."
One of the dead was shot outside the library of the two-year college, where students were studying for or taking final exams.
The gunman, who was not immediately identified, was described as white or Latino with curly hair and 20 to 30 years old. Witnesses said he was dressed in black, wore body armor and a helmet and brandished a military-style assault rifle, a shotgun, a handgun and an ammunition belt.
He was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police in the library as students dived for cover or ran for safety. Lewis said. Beforehand, students, many wearing headphones, either did not hear or ignored several "pops."
The 38-acre main campus remained locked down throughout the afternoon while the bomb squad examined suspicious bags the gunman left behind. The gunman was found with a canvas bag that included a rifle, a handgun and magazines of ammunition, The lockdown was lifted late Friday, but the school remains closed.