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Cleveland police: University gunman in custody

Officials: One killed, at least 10 hurt in seven-hour incident

The alleged gunman is wheeled on a stretcher into a local hospital late Friday night.
The alleged gunman is wheeled on a stretcher into a local hospital late Friday night.

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (CNN) -- Seven hours after a gunman entered a building at Case Western Reserve University and began firing -- killing at least one person -- police said they had him in custody and were reuniting dozens of terrified people with their families.

"We have a male in custody, and at this time we believe he is either the shooter or one of the shooters," Cleveland Police Chief Edward Lohn said. He had no details of the arrest.

Lohn said about 70 people had been pinned inside the building while the gunman roamed inside, and "almost all" of them had been escorted out.

"We have trained for this and tonight, hopefully, this is over and it has been concluded," Lohn said.

Officials said one man was killed and at least 10 others were wounded in the incident, in which faculty, students and staff hid under desks and barricaded their doors to hide from the gunman.

Janice Guhl, a spokeswoman for University Hospital, said the victim was a 30-year-old man from Youngstown, Ohio, who was studying for a master's degree. He died at the scene, she said.

Witnesses described the gunman as wearing camouflage and carrying a bag and a machine gun. Some said he smashed a window at the building and then entered shooting about 4 p.m.

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Police have surrounded the Peter B. Lewis building, shown here, at Case Western Reserve University.

It was believed the unidentified gunman, who first fired shots about 4 p.m., was still inside the multimillion-dollar Peter B. Lewis building, which houses the Weatherhead School of Management, at 8:30 p.m.

Those inside the building described deafening automatic-weapons fire as they huddled in offices, barricading their doors.

One professor, holed up in his office with three doctoral students, said he heard a "flurry of gunshots" about 8:40 p.m. He said they have moved a table in front of the door and are communicating with authorities and family members via e-mail, cell phones and Internet messaging.

He said an internal e-mail was sent to professors informing them of the shooting and advising them to lock themselves in their offices.

"We figured we'll stay until the SWAT team gets us," he told CNN affiliate WKYC.

University President Edward Hundert said, "This has just been a nightmare."

He praised the mayor and community leaders for responding so quickly, and said he has been trying to give worried family members information about their loved ones inside the building.

"Some of the people who were in the building earlier who got out have been debriefed by the police, and so as their debriefing is over, we're connecting them with their family members," Hundert said.

Two wounded taken to hospital

At least two people were known to have been shot, university spokeswoman Marci Hersh said. A man who was hit in the buttocks was being treated at Huron Hospital, a spokeswoman there said. A woman was also brought to the hospital, but the extent of her injuries was not known.

Police sealed the building and SWAT team members were sent inside, officials said. Dozens of police, many with guns drawn, surrounded the building, and an armored personnel carrier -- called the "Mother Truck" -- was at the scene.

Officials had no details on the gunman, but Michael Moore, a security guard on campus, said police told him the shooter was not a student.

"He had a machine gun, book bag, camouflage shirt, military green hat, white pants and a book bag," eyewitness LeKisha Spencer, 28, told The Associated Press. "He was just walking, aiming his guns and firing."

Lohn said the shooter is "disgruntled or upset." He asked that the gunman call police at (216) 375-8112, with a reminder that the gunman must dial "9" first.

"We'd like to bring this to a quick and peaceful resolution," said Cleveland police Detective Nancy Dominic.

'Quite a bit of shooting going on'

Dick Bennett, the executive director of development at the Weatherhead School of Management, described the attack.

"We heard gunfire a little after 4 p.m., and almost immediately police descended on the building," he said. "There's quite a bit of shooting going on."

Bennett spoke from the third floor of the building, a $62 million facility, designed by architect Frank Gehry of Guggenheim Museum fame. The 152,000-square-foot building has six levels and a radical, stainless steel roof. (More on building)

There were "tens, if not hundreds" of shots fired -- what sounded like "the culminating event of the Fourth of July," Bennett said.

"The shots you can hear quite clearly up here," he said, noting that the lobby is an atrium so the sound has been echoing through the building.

Bennett described the shots as automatic fire, going off in "fairly rapid succession." They sounded for more than an hour, before calming about 5:10 p.m. Around 5:40 p.m., more shots were fired.

He said he and eight others -- including a pregnant woman -- were in a glassed-in office, and would move into a more enclosed copy room if they were threatened.

Yalanda Washington, an administrator, told CNN she has been hiding under her desk on the building's second floor since 4:15 p.m.

"We heard a lot of activity in the hall, but I understand that the police are doing a sweep of the building, so I just assume that that's what that noise was," Washington said.

She said she has been using the two-way radio feature on her cell phone to reach friends inside the building so that their phones don't ring and reveal their locations. She has also been talking to family members outside the building to find out what is happening around her, she said.

Bennett estimated about 40 to 50 people were inside the building when the shooting began. Final exams had ended this week, so the building wasn't as full as during the school year. Graduation is scheduled for May 18.

He said he felt "violated" by the shooter for ruining what had been another good academic year: "It is very sad."

Case Western Reserve is an independent research university with programs in the arts and sciences, engineering, the health sciences, law, management and social work.

The Weatherhead School of Management has more than 1,600 students, fewer than 10 percent of whom would have been around on a Friday afternoon, Bennett said.

He said Fridays are research days, which means most of the faculty would have been away, also.

The Peter B. Lewis building opened for last year's fall semester after more than three years of construction.


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