Former Student Kills Five at Northern Illinois, then Commits Suicide

"He didn't say anything. He just started shooting."

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A former grad student shot and killed five people in a Northern Illinois University classroom before turning the gun on himself, the NIU's Northern Star and school's website reports. Sixteen others were wounded; four people, including the shooter, died at the scene, and two more died at the hospital.

The shooter has been identified as Steve Kazmierczak and was described as "a skinny white guy with stocking cap on" and dressed in all black. Armed with three handguns and a shotgun, Kazmierczak, 27, sneaked into the large lecture hall of an ocean science class shortly after 3 p.m. Central Time and, from the stage, opened a "very brief, rapid fire assault" into the student audience, university President John Peters said at a press conference Thursday. Police found 48 shell casings and six shotgun cells in the classroom.

"He didn't say anything. He just started shooting," one witness told the Northern Star. Students ran and crawled out of the auditorium, and once out, frantically dashed from the scene. "I saw a girl running with no shoes on and she was freaking out," described one passerby. Another student added: "I saw everyone sprinting and screaming and I saw two bloody people sprinting and screaming to 'Get away; there was a shooting in Cole Hall.' "

The campus was soon put on lockdown at 3:07 p.m., and an all-campus alert was posted at 3:20 p.m., Peters said.

Via the school's website, students and teachers were told to "get to a safe area and take precautions until given the all-clear."

By 4:10 p.m., the scene at the 25,000-student campus had been secured.

Late Thursday, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich declared a state of emergency at NIU and promised money from the state's disaster relief fund to reimburse the city and the university for the expenses incurred by the shootings.

Numerous vigils were scheduled for Thursday evening and Friday afternoon

All classes, activities, and sports events scheduled for yesterday afternoon through at least Sunday were canceled, and counselors were made available at the scene, the college reports.