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911 calls describe Nev. IHOP shooting spree

September 7, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The 911 calls from the deadly shooting rampage at an IHOP restaurant in Nevada paint a picture of a frantic scene.

Authorities in Carson City are still trying to determine a motive behind the shooting spree that left five people dead, including the gunman, on Tuesday.

Police said just before 9 a.m., Eduardo Sencion stepped onto an IHOP parking lot from his minivan with a yellow "Support Our Troops" sticker and opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle.

He then continued into the restaurant and opened fire on a group of uniformed National Guard members while they were eating. Three of them died, as well as another female customer.

The victims were identified as 31-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Miranda McElhiney, 38-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Christian Riege, 35-year-old Major Heath Kelly and 67-year-old Florence Donovan-Gunderson of South Lake Tahoe. Seven others were injured.

Sencion exited the restaurant and fired shots toward a barbecue restaurant and an H&R Block before turning the rifle on himself. He was lying injured in the parking lot by the time officers arrived.

In one of the 911 calls, you can hear the fear and urgency in the caller's voice and the gunshots being fired in the background. Ralph Sagler made the call from his barbecue restaurant just across the parking lot from the IHOP.

"The bullets were just passing by our heads," said Sagler.

Security video shows Sagler's son trying to lock the front door. He got out of the way just in time.

Howard McDonald and his family were at the IHOP having breakfast that day.

"I hear the pop pop pop pop pop, and then all of a sudden I see my wife, and I see my daughter and the grandkids underneath the table," said McDonald.

Sencion's brother, Gilberto Sencion, apologized for the deadly shooting when approached by a reporter and said he had no idea his brother would do this.

Other family members told investigators the 32-year-old was mentally troubled, but did not have a criminal history.

Crowds gathered outside the IHOP on Tuesday night to remember the victims.

Authorities are investigating whether the military members were targeted. Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong told The Associated Press on Tuesday night that authorities, at that point, did not think the shooter set out to target people in the military.

Sencion was born in Mexico and had a valid U.S. passport. He worked at a family business in South Lake Tahoe and had no known affiliations with anyone inside the restaurant, Furlong said. He was not in the military.

A lawyer representing some of Sencion's family members called the shooting "an aberration of his character."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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