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Gunman killed after slaying 2 visitors at Mormon archive

April 15, 1999
Web posted at: 9:10 p.m. EDT (0110 GMT)

SALT LAKE CITY (CNN) -- A gunman with a history of schizophrenia opened fire at the Mormon Church's Family History Library on Thursday, killing two people and wounding five before police fatally shot him, authorities said.

Salt Lake City Mayor Deedee Corradini said the gunman, 70-year-old Sergei Babarrin, suffered from the mental illness and had not been taking his medication. The other two who died were a security guard and a female library patron. A police officer was among the wounded, she said.

Authorities determined that Babarrin, who had a daily ritual of taking a morning walk around downtown, acted alone. Police knew of no motive for the shootings.

Witnesses said the gunman, wearing military fatigues, walked into the first-floor lobby of the library and began firing randomly with a small-caliber handgun.

"I started to yell, 'Get down on the floor,'" said Tom Wilson, who was in the library waiting for his wife. He said the gunman fired "a couple of more shots. He could have shot a lot of people."

Visitors to the library Thursday included about 180 fourth- graders, who were reported "safe and well," Corradini said. Seventeen people trapped on the second floor of the building during the shooting were evacuated unharmed.

Police search building, truck

The shooting spree began at 10:30 a.m. It ended about 90 minutes later when the gunman moved to a room adjoining the lobby, "where he was engaged" by police and shot, police spokesman Craig Gleason said.

Babarrin died a short time later in an ambulance parked outside the building.

His only known brush with the law before Thursday happened in 1995, when he got into an altercation at a local store while armed with a .22-caliber handgun, authorities said.

After Babarrin was shot, heavily armed police searched the five-story library amid reports of a possible second gunman. Those reports turned out to be unfounded.

Also raising suspicion was a rental truck parked near the library.

Several hours after the shooting, a police bomb squad destroyed a gasoline can they found in a yellow Ryder truck parked near the building, because it had an "explosives" tag attached to it. But authorities determined the truck was not connected to the shootings.

The library is the largest genealogical library in the world. It is located across the street from Temple Square, site of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Salt Lake Temple and Tabernacle.

The library contains family history records on more than 2 billion people from dozens of countries. The Mormons consider genealogy part of their mission, yet the library attracts people from all faiths who want to trace their ancestry.

The Utah Genealogical Association is meeting in Salt Lake City this week, making the library busier than usual, witnesses said.

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March 29, 1998

Salt Lake City Police
About the Family History Library
The Mormon Connection: The LDS Church and Genealogy
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