Death toll rises in US guardsmen shooting

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SaiGon GP English - 38 month(s) ago 2 readings

The US state of Nevada reeled in shock Wednesday after a gunman opened fire on a group of National Guardsmen having breakfast at a pancake restaurant, killing four people and wounding seven.

The shooter, named as 32-year-old Eduardo Sencion, used an AK-47 assault rifle in the early morning attack in Carson City, in which three Guardsmen were among the dead and two injured before he turned the gun on himself.

Three people were pronounced dead shortly after the shooting, with the fourth, a female member of the National Guard, confirmed overnight.

"This is a real tragic event," Sheriff Ken Furlong said, adding in a briefing late Tuesday that he believed it was "the largest single shooting incident to occur in Carson City history."

Witnesses called emergency services shortly after 9:00 am (1600 GMT) when they saw an armed man in the parking lot of the International House of Pancakes, a chain restaurant.

The five National Guard members -- two women and three men -- were having an informal meeting when Sencion -- also known as Eduardo Perez-Gonzalez -- came in and fired on their table, Furlong said.

The sheriff's office said he then went outside, where "his shooting spree continued into the restaurant's parking lot, culminating in him turning the gun on himself."

Mexican-born Sencion -- a Carson City resident with a US passport and no criminal history, according to police records -- initially survived, but died later of his wounds.

The shooter had spent the night in Carson City after returning from South Lake Tahoe, where he works. His family reported nothing unusual about him Monday night, but said he had a history of mental illness.

In addition to the AK-47 used in the attack, two other firearms were found at the scene, but had not been fired, the sheriff said.

Fran Hunter, who was having breakfast at the nearby Casino Fandango, said the gunman came out of the restaurant and shot out the windows of another nearby eatery, as well as firing on nearby shops.

"I don’t know what’s happening to my city," Hunter was quoted as saying by the Reno Gazette-Journal.

"This happens in L.A. or Las Vegas but not here."

In Washington, the Pentagon lamented the shooting. "The senseless loss of life is a tragedy whenever and wherever it happens," said Department of Defense spokesman George Little.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the top Democrat in the US Senate, voiced sorrow at the shooting, adding that Carson City, the state capital, was a "peaceful, quiet place."

"To have something like this happen is just very, very difficult to accept," he said.

The restaurant chain also voiced shock. "Our thoughts are with the victims and families of the senseless shooting," it said in a statement. "Details of this tragic situation are still unfolding and we are waiting to learn more."

The United States, where liberal local gun ownership laws are common, is prone to mass shootings, a fact highlighted by two other incidents.

Just hours before the Nevada rampage, a man in Morgantown, West Virginia, shot and killed five people before fleeing to nearby Pennsylvania and then Kentucky, where he killed himself when confronted by police.

The shooter, identified as 22-year-old Shayne Riggleman of Morgantown, was described as an acquaintance of the victims whom he murdered, apparently with a high-powered rifle, WBOY television reported.

Meanwhile, in Warren County outside New York, the sheriff's office told of "an apparent double murder suicide" late Monday, in which a father was believed to have shot dead his two daughters and then turned the gun on himself.

Less than a month ago, a gunman shot dead seven people, including three children, in a small town in Ohio before being killed in a shootout with police.

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