Sept. 7,2011 -- The sheriff of the Nevada town where a gunman shot up an IHOP restaurant with an assault rifle said today that the murderous carnage "was not unlike 9/11."
Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong spoke after a third member of the Nevada National Guard died of her injuries from Tuesday's attack, bringing the death toll to five. The dead include gunman Eduardo Sencion, who shot himself.
Furlong today said that his city would always remember the senseless shooting that took five lives, but that the community would heal and move on.
"Yesterday in Carson City was not unlike 9/11. Families, communities, and the entire nation have been affected by what happened here," Furlong said. "We're a resilient society. We rebuild, but we don't forget."
Nevada National Guard Heighten Security Following IHOP Shooting
Furlong said the investigation had determined that Sencion had not singled out the guardsmen, who were sitting together at a table at the rear of the restaurant because civilians were also shot in equal numbers. Sencion walked to the middle of the restaurant where he began shooting toward the back of the room, where the Guard members were sitting, Furlong said.
Nevertheless, the base commander said that he had issued an order after the shooting for soldiers to not wear their uniforms off base and extra security was added to the base.
Furlong said Sencion, 32, had a history of mental illness. He said Sencion was carrying an AK-47 style assault rifle, but also had a pistol and an additional rifle in his van. Furlong said the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is looking into how he got the weapons.
Police Look for Motive, Investigate Mental Illness in Nevada Shooting
Sencion, who was born in Mexico, is a U.S. citizen who has been here for a long period of time and had no criminal history, Furlong said. The only record police have of him is of three pawn transactions over the past year. Investigators don't believe he engaged with anyone else prior to the shooting, and have found no apparent ties between Sencion and the IHOP or neighboring businesses.
Witnesses reported that Sencion may have been shouting things while shooting, but Furlong noted that many of them were severely traumatized and those accounts have not been confirmed yet.
"I don't think it will be horribly difficult to develop a timeline of what did transpire," Furlong said. "But what we don't know, we may have lost with the suspect when he passed away."
He said there were no security cameras that had footage of the rampage, which began just before 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Investigators are talking to Sencion's family members about potential mental illness. Furlong said the family is cooperating and is grieving.
Gunman Kills 5, Wounds 6 At Carson City IHOPEleven people were shot during the rampage, including one outside the restaurant when Sencion sprayed gunfire around the parking lot and at neighboring businesses.
Furlong released the names and information of some of those killed, including National Guard members Major Heath Kelly, 35, Sgt. First Class Christian Riege, 39, Sgt. First Class Miranda McElheney, 38, and civilian Florence Donovan Gunderson, 67. The Guard members were at an offsite staff meeting, while Gunderson was eating at the restaurant with her husband, a former Marine Corps member, who was also injured.
Kelly, a decorated artillery officer, served in Iraq during 2004 and 2005 and lived in Reno with his wife and children.
McElheny, whom Furlong called a "fast riser," was a medical, dental, and human resources specialist who served for 14 years.
Riege, of Carson City, served in Afghanistan from 2009-2010 and served in the Navy for two years. He was a father of three and an avid fitness buff.
Some of the survivors' injuries were "extremely life threatening," Furlong said.