A gunman opened fire at a Nevada restaurant, killing three people and wounding nine others, many of them members of the National Guard, before turning the gun on himself.
Witnesses called the emergency services shortly after 9:00 am (0400 NZT) when they saw a man in the parking lot of the International House of Pancakes restaurant in Carson City shooting with an automatic weapon.
“Many of the victims were National Guard persons at the restaurant at the time in uniform,” Sheriff Ken Furlong said.
A sheriff’s office spokesman, Jack Freer, told AFP three people were killed, including two national guardsmen. A military spokesman said the wounded included other guardsmen, but would not say how many.
The shooter initially survived, but died later of his wounds, said Freer.
Speaking to reporters at the scene, Furlong said the gunman had shot himself by the time officers arrived. “The suspect… already had self-inflicted wounds and was lying in the parking lot,” he said.
In Washington, the Pentagon blasted the shooting. “The senseless loss of life is a tragedy whenever and wherever it happens,” said Department of Defense spokesman George Little.
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.
“I was standing in front of Fandango, and somebody said, ‘Oh he shot himself’,” she said, cited by the Reno Gazette-Journal.
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the top Senate Democrat in Washington, voiced sorrow at the shooting.
“According to early reports, three people are now dead and six others have been wounded by a single gunman,” Reid said.
“I’m disturbed to hear that two of the victims were serving this nation proudly as part of the Nevada national guard,” he said, 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 at the shooting. “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,” it added.