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    7 slain in Northern Illinois University shooting

    Stephen Kazmierczak, 27, shot and killed seven people, including himself, when he barged into a lecture at Northern Illinois University (NIU) Thursday afternoon.

    Kazmierczak, armed with a shotgun and two handguns, crashed into the lecture hall shortly after 3 p.m., when the class was about to finish, and opened fire on the audience without any warning. Panic ensued.

    Students started to sprint for the exit, while some hit the ground. Others crawled and shoved their way to the door — all while shots bellowed throughout the room, according to an Associated Press report.

    “I said I could get up and run or I could die here,” Lauren Carr, a sophomore, said to AP reporters.

    Although police arrived on the scene within minutes, according to The New York Times, Kazmierczak’s rampage had already ended.

    Kazmierczak killed six people and took his own life as well.

    Classes at the 25,000-student campus were subsequently closed for the day and the school used an alert system similar to Stony Brook University’s to send a message to the campus about the gunman’s presence.

    When Kazmierczak’s death had been confirmed, a second message was sent to reassure the campus that immediate danger had passed.

    Donald Grady, chief of NIU’s Department of Public Safety, told The New York Times that such behavior by Kazmierczak was unexpected.

    Kazmierczak, of Champaign, Ill., was a graduate student at NIU last spring and won the Dean’s award in 2006. However, according to Grady, Kazmierczak had stopped taking his medication in recent weeks and had been acting erratic. “There were no red flags,” Grady said in the Times’ report.

    In the moments leading up to the attack, Kazmierczak reportedly parked near the lecture hall, carried his shotgun in a guitar case, and had the pistols and ammunition strapped to his body. He wore a coat to conceal the weapons.

    Two of the guns used in the attack — a 12-guage shotgun and a 9-millimeter Glock pistol — were bought by Kazmierczak himself from a gun dealer in Champaign six days earlier; they were legally registered to him.

    As of now, seven deaths have been confirmed, including Kazmierczak: Daniel Parmenter, 20, of Westchester, Ill.; Catalina Garcia, 20, of Cicero, Ill.; Ryanne Mace, 19, of Carpentersville, Ill.; Julianna Gehant, 32, of Mendota, Ill.; and Gayle Dubowski, 20, of Carol Stream, Ill.

    Across the country, many people have spoken out about the attack. Right here at SBU, President Kenny posted her thoughts on the school’s website.

    “The Stony Brook University campus community is shocked and saddened by the deadly rampage that occurred yesterday on the Northern Illinois University campus,” she said. “We extend our heartfelt sympathy to all those who have lost loved ones in such a senseless and appalling act of violence.”

    Students here at the university also expressed their shock at the situation.

    “I was really surprised…I guess it hit home,” said Navneet Singh, a senior. “It could happen [anywhere], but the police presence makes me feel better.”

    Sumama Ullas, a sophomore, shared similar sentiments: “I was kind of surprised that [this] is happening more and more… I’d like to think that [SBU] is safe.”

    Classes at NIU will no longer be held in the lecture hall where the shooting took place, Cole Hall, and classes at the University will resume on Feb. 25.

    A memorial service is to be held at NIU on Feb. 24 to assist with the community’s recovery process.

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