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Site of fatal NIU shootings to be demolished

  • Story Highlights
  • Cole Hall, site of shootings, to be replaced by high-tech "Memorial Hall"
  • Steven Kazmierczak opened fire in geology lecture hall February 14
  • Kazmierczak shot 21 people, killing five of them, then killed himself, police say
  • Shooter's girlfriend says he stopped taking antidepressant a few weeks earlier
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(CNN) -- The building where a gunman killed five people at Northern Illinois University two weeks ago will be demolished, state officials said Wednesday.

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Police tape and flowers sit outside Cole Hall at Northern Illinois University on Sunday.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's office confirmed that the state will provide the funding for the university to demolish Cole Hall, the site of Steven Kazmierczak's February 14 rampage.

Cole Hall will be replaced by a high-tech classroom building to be named Memorial Hall, the office said.

Kazmierczak, of Champaign, Illinois, opened fire on a geology class, shooting 21 people before killing himself.

He used a shotgun hidden in a guitar case and three handguns hidden under a coat, NIU Police Chief Donald Grady said.

Grady said he didn't know how many shots had been fired, but he said investigators recovered 48 bullet casings and six shotgun shells.

About 160 students were registered for the class that met in the large lecture hall.

Kevin McEnery said he was in the classroom when the gunman, dressed in a black shirt, dark pants and black hat, burst in carrying a shotgun.

"He just kicked the door open, just started shooting," McEnery said. "All I really heard was just people screaming, yelling 'get out.' ... Close to 30 shots were fired."

Student Zach Seward said, "We were having lecture as normal, a PowerPoint presentation. All of a sudden, the side door on the stage opens. Average-height male Caucasian comes out, draws a shotgun, pumps it and fires the first round on the first couple of rows.

"After that, everybody ducked down, started screaming, going toward the door. On the way out, I heard shots still being fired. Everybody was screaming and running out of the room. It was chaos." See map of where the shootings happened »

Kazmierczak's girlfriend told CNN that the 27-year-old had stopped taking an antidepressant three weeks before the shooting.

Jessica Baty said Kazmierczak had been taking Xanax, used to treat anxiety, and Ambien, a sleep agent, as well as the antidepressant Prozac.

Baty did not say whether Kazmierczak stopped taking Prozac abruptly or whether he consulted with his psychiatrist before doing so.

She said Kazmierczak had been taking the antidepressant for obsessive-compulsive tendencies and anxiety caused by school.

Baty told CNN that, during their two-year courtship, she had never seen him display violent tendencies, and she expressed bewilderment over the cause of the rampage. "He was anything but a monster," Baty said. "He was probably the nicest, most caring person ever."

"There were no red flags," said Grady, the university police chief. "He was an outstanding student; he was an awarded student; he was someone that was revered by the faculty, staff and students alike. ... So we had no indications at all."

NIU President John Peters said the gunman was a former graduate student who had a good record as an undergraduate, receiving a degree in sociology at the school in 2006.

"There's no indication that there was any trouble," Peters said.

All the victims were from Illinois. The DeKalb County coroner's office identified four of them: Daniel Parmenter, 20, of Westchester; Catalina Garcia, 20, of Cicero; Ryanne Mace, 19, of Carpentersville; and Julianna Gehant, 32, of Meriden.

The fifth victim, Gayle Dubowski, 20, of Carol Stream, died at a hospital in Rockford and was identified by Winnebago County authorities. Read about the victims' lives »

Though authorities said they responded within seconds to the incident, they also vowed to see what might have been done better.

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"If there is a way where this tragedy could have been anticipated, or stopped beforehand, we will find it," said Blagojevich.

Northern Illinois University has an enrollment of more than 25,000. The campus covers 755 acres. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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