By Neil Woulfe – Radar Senior News Director
A third member of the National Guard — a woman — died overnight as a result of injuries she suffered at the hands of a crazed gunman who opened fire in an IHOP restaurant in Carson City, Nevada Tuesday morning.
In all, five people, including the gunman (who took his own life), were killed in the rampage, which also left seven others wounded.
Authorities are now trying to determine whether the gunman — identified as 32-year-old Carson City resident Eduardo Sencion — specifically targeted the group of National Guard personnel who were eating breakfast in the restaurant.
Of the eleven victims shot in the rampage, five were National Guard members who were sitting together, all in uniform, in the back of the IHOP. Two of the service members — a man and a woman — died earlier on Tuesday.
Police say Sencion — who was born in Mexico, but was here in the United States under a U.S. passport — had no criminal history; his family says, however, he had a history of mental illness.
Police say Sencion first shot a woman in the parking lot of the IHOP with an AK-47 and then entered the restaurant and opened fire; he then went back to the parking lot, crouched down between cars, and shot himself in the head.
Sencion left two more guns in the van — a rifle and a pistol, authorities said.
While the FBI says it does not believe the shooting was the result of a terrorist plot, because the Guard members were in uniform, investigators say it appears the shooter could have targeted them, Carson City Sheriff Kenny 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.
The shooting happened about four miles from the National Guard’s state headquarters. April Conway, spokesperson for the Nevada National Guard, says they are deeply saddened by the tragedy and said that security has now been heightened at its facilities.
“The loss of any guardsmen whether it be a soldier or an airman or any person in the military is a loss and we feel it the same no matter what the circumstances under which they died,” Conway said. “We did raise our security measures this morning at our guard facilities … that’s not an uncommon procedure but it is standard protocol when something happens with our guard members.”
Following the shooting, IHOP posted a statement offering its condolences on its corporate website.
“Our thoughts are with the victims and families of the senseless shooting at our restaurant in Carson City, NV,” the statement read.
“Details of this tragic situation are still unfolding and we are waiting to learn more. We have offered our assistance to federal and local law enforcement, and are grateful to the emergency responders assisting on the scene. We will keep you advised as we learn more.”
Keep checking RadarOnline.com for the latest on this developing story.