Thursday, February 14, 2008

Six Dead at NIU: Had school officials been warned? NIU shooter former student

UPDATE:Presidential Candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) extended his help to school administrators from the campaign trail.

Six are dead including the shooter during a midday St. Valentine's mass murder on the sprawling campus of Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, IL. Students told reporters, during witness accounts, about a previous threat to the NIU campus--racist graffiti scrawled on the wall of a bathroom.

The shooter, identified as Stephen Kazmierczak, was a NIU graduate student in the spring of 2007, school administrators said during a press conference broadcast on CLTV News in Chicago.

He was enrolled as a graduate student in the school of social work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign during the time of his fatal attack.

In all 22 people have been injured. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is processing the crime scene.

One witness described the shooter as a "skinny white guy with a stocking cap," who police say later committed suicide. Witnesses also say he was dressed in all black and didn't say anything before opening fire with a shotgun.

Witnesses told reporters there were 20 to 30 shots inside a classroom at Cole Hall while class was in session. The lecture hall was set up like an auditorium and Kazmierczak came from backstage onto centerstage, shooting into the audience of students.

A female student in the class said the shooter looked angry and that the incident began during the last 10 minutes of class.

Many were treated for head wounds, a Kishwaukee Community Hospital spokeswoman said.

Another witness said there was threatening racist graffiti against Blacks found in a restroom when asked by a reporter if the campus had any warnings of violence prior to the shooting.

That threat, though widely reported in December 2007, was mostly dismissed as an attempt by students to possibly delay finals.

However found on the WIFR.com web site are the comments of Mitchell Gaddis, president of the university's NAACP chapter. In December 2007 he said the slurs and threats found in a residence hall bathroom didn't come out of the blue.

Gaddis says it is unsafe for blacks to walk along Greek Row. He says blacks are tired of that.
Blacks compose nearly 13 percent of the university's 18,816 undergraduates.

NIU school officials were tightlipped when asked by reporters whether or not they think the shooting is connected to previous incidents. They said they think that it is not, however, they are investigating the link, according to reports from CNN.

Also reported is that the shooter was acting erratic in the weeks
preceeding the campus massacre and had not taking prescribed medication for an unknown illness. It is unclear who noticed Kazmierczak's behaivor change and if they tried to warn anyone of it.

The shooting happened around 3 p.m. CST and the campus was locked down within minutes. The open commuter-style campus is located in Dekalb, Illinois not far from Rockford, IL has an enrollment exceeding 25,000. Classes have been canceled until further notice. Students were asked to call their parents, many told reporters that they were going home.

However, the emergency response to the shooting was exceptionally fast.


Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich declared a state-of-emergency which will open the Governor’s disaster relief fund for local units of government to reimburse them for their extraordinary expenses related to the response and will facilitate the Illinois Emergency Management Agency in providing assistance to local units of government.

Gov. Blagojevich activated the State Emergency Operation Center (SEOC) to coordinate the State's response.

In addition, the State is providing on-site assistance at NIU, including Illinois State Police Northern Tactical Response team members, State Police officers and Illinois Department of Natural Resources officers who are supporting local and university law enforcement.

Specialists from the Department of Human Services are assisting the university’s metal health professionals in conducting a crisis assessment.

On-scene response included 16 ambulances, 2 air ambulances, more than 60 fire and EMT personnel, 15 Law Enforcement Officers, two mobile command posts and an Illinois Transportable Emergency Communication System.


UPDATES: The Sun-Times Newspaper
Chicago Tribune
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