by Christina Cocca
SANTA BARBARA – A gunman and six others were killed and seven more injured when a shooter opened fire in the coastal college town of Isla Vista near the University of California, Santa Barbara Friday night, officials said.
The suspected gunman died of a gunshot wound to the head, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said at a Saturday morning news conference.
He could not confirm whether the gunshot was self-inflicted.
Seven victims were hospitalized and at least one of them had undergone surgery for life-threatening injuries, Brown said.
The gunfire erupted just before 9:30 p.m. The gunman shot victims while he was inside his car, a black BMW, Brown said.
Nine crime scene locations were confirmed across Isla Vista, but no shots were fired on the university’s campus, Brown said.
Approximately six minutes after the initial call was received, the suspect shot at responding deputies and deputies returned gunfire. The suspect fled in his vehicle, encountered another deputy, exchanged gunfire and fled again.
The suspect eventually crashed into a parked vehicle. When deputies approached the vehicle, they found the suspect dead from an apparent gunshot wound.
About 10 minutes passed between the time officials received the first 911 call to the time the suspect was determined to be dead at the scene, Brown said.
Officials believe the gunman acted alone and are not looking for any additional suspects. One semi automatic handgun was recovered from the suspect’s vehicle.
“It’s obviously a heartbreaking situation to see this happen,” Brown said.
Officials knew the identity of the shooter but were waiting to release it until they had positive confirmation. A video posted on YouTube making threats to Isla Vista residents was being investigated as evidence.
“(We are) analyzing both written and video taped evidence that suggest this atrocity was a premeditated mass murder,” Brown said.
Officials are in the process of identifying the seven victims and notifying the next of kin.
Residents took to social media to report multiple drive-by shootings and a hit-and-run. One woman said she saw a man with a gun and heard shots being fired immediately after seeing him.
Isla Vista residents were urged to stay indoors.
The motive behind the shooting was not immediately clear.