IHOP Shooting: Third National Guardsman Dies

Police are looking into whether shooter targeted guardsmen; terrorism unlikely.

ByABC News
September 7, 2011, 3:01 AM

Sept. 7, 2011— -- A third National Guard member has died from injuries suffered in a shooting rampage that took place at a Nevada IHOP restaurant, according to the Carson City, Nev. sheriff. The shooting spree has now left five people dead, including the shooter, and left seven wounded.

Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong said the third Guard member, a woman, died at an area hospital. Her name hasn't been provided by authorities.

Police are now trying to determine whether the man specifically targeted the group of National Guard personnel eating breakfast in the restaurant. Of the 12 people shot in the rampage, five were National Guard members who were sitting together, all in uniform, in the back of the restaurant. Two of the service members -- a man and a woman -- were reported dead earlier on Tuesday.

Carson City resident Eduardo Sencion, who worked in nearby Tahoe and had no criminal history, entered the restaurant with an AK-47 and began shooting, then ended it by shooting himself in the head.

FBI special agent Mike West says there's no indication that terrorism is connected to the deadly shooting spree.

"We're continuing to work with the sheriff's office to ensure that. We have additional searching to do both at the scene here and other locations in town," West said. "At this time, we see no nexus to terrorism in this event."

Witnesses described a scene of horror and chaos after Sencion pulled up at the IHOP in a blue minivan and ran into the restaurant.

"All I heard was about a heavy eight seconds of automatic gunfire," said Nick Teply, who was at the McDonald's drive-through next door. "I just froze trying to identify which direction it was coming from."

Ralph Swagler was getting ready to open up his nearby restaurant when Sencion arrived, reportedly in a car with a bumper sticker reading "Support Our Troops." Swagler said he saw Sencion shoot a woman standing by a motorcycle in the parking lot before entering the IHOP. Swagler says he grabbed his own weapon but couldn't stop the gunman from entering the restaurant.

"You just can't believe the amount of rounds coming out of that gun. There was no way that I was gonna go up and try to shoot him. He had too much firepower," Swagler said.

Sheriff Furlong says Sencion left the restaurant after his deadly spree and sprayed bullets all around the parking lot. Most of the businesses within a 360 degree turn have been damaged.

Once Senicon had shot up the parking lot, he crouched down between cars and shot himself.

Because of where the Guard members were sitting and the fact they were in uniform, investigators say it appears the shooter could have targeted them, Furlong said Tuesday evening.

"Information suggests at this point in time that the National Guard members were sitting all the way into the restaurant along the southeast side, and that he entered through the front doors and traveled all the way through the restaurant to the back area," Furlong said.

"Obviously when five out of 11 of the victims are uniformed National Guard members, that's taking a priority interest in our agency," he said.

Investigators are also looking into Sencion's mental health history, as his family members have indicated that he had a history of mental illness. Furlong also added that Senicon was born in Mexico, but was here in the United States under a U.S. passport.